A qualitative study of mental health nurse identities: many roles, one profession

John Hurley

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    46 Citations (Scopus)


    The aim of the study was to clarify and build upon current understandings of mental health nurse (MHN) identity. The study adopted a framework of social constructionism and qualitative methodology. Semistructured interviews were conducted, which were thematically analyzed using Nvivo software. Twenty-five MHN were recruited across three geographical sites in the UK. Participants constructed a cluster of seven MHN identity characteristics that constituted a unique contribution to talk-based therapies. These themes of characteristics are: (i) the MHN as generic specialist; (ii) the MHN as adopting a service-user focus; (iii) the MHN as positioning and utilizing the personal self; (iv) the MHN as spending time with the service user; (v) the MHN as delivering talk-based therapies in versatile ways; (vi) the MHN as having an everyday attitude; and (vii) the MHN as having transferable skills. The distinctiveness, and thus, professional identity of mental health nursing, must be understood as a cluster of capabilities rather than a search for a singular point of difference. The breadth of capabilities employed by MHN highlights the value and worth of their contribution to service-user care.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)383-390
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


    • Mental health nurse identity
    • Psychological therapies
    • Qualitative research


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