• 16 April 2019
  • 15 min read

What inspired me to be a mental health nurse?

  • Chloe Lawrence
    Registered Mental Health Nurse

Everyone has their own inspirations for becoming a nurse, but what made Chloe realise she wanted to be an RMN? Find out in this blog and Chloe's vlog!

Play video: Chloe shares what inspired her to become a mental health nurse!

Hello guys and welcome back to my channel!

My name is Chloe if you are new here, and if you are I would love for you to hit that bright red subscribe button down below, and of course, if you enjoyed the video please don't forget to give it a big thumbs up.

Today I have got for you another video sponsored by the lovely people over at Nurses.co.uk.

They are a career website for nurses built by nurses, and on top of all the career opportunities on their website they also have a really great blog with loads of different resources written by nurses and student nurses, so it's definitely well worth checking out both their website and their social media.

This time around, Nurses.co.uk asked me to talk to you guys about what inspired me to become a nurse and the path that led me to nursing.

For anyone who hasn't seen any of my previous videos, I am a mental health nurse and I graduated about six/seven months ago, so I'm still fairly newly qualified.

If you haven't seen any of my previous nursing videos I'll link the playlist up there because I've done quite a few nursing based videos.

Without further ado, let's get on with the video!

"As a little kid, I used to love pretending to be a nurse"

People ask me all the time why I became a nurse, why I became a mental health nurse, which is why when Nurses.co.uk suggested it I thought it was a great idea because it's something that you guys ask me quite a lot and I feel like it's not a particularly straightforward question.

It's not something that I could answer in a sentence or two so I find it really difficult when people ask me in the comments of videos because I can't easily reply to that, so in the future if people ask me that I'm just gonna send them the link to this video!

I don't know if other nurses feel like this but I just kind of feel like nursing was always in me.

Looking back now I kind of feel like I was destined to become a nurse, it just fits me perfectly and I love my job and I love what I do.

I love thinking about where my career is gonna go in the future, how I can build on myself and hopefully not only deliver great care to the patients that are directly under my care but also change things for patients in the future.

As a little kid I used to love pretending to be a nurse; I would line all of my teddies and dolls up and play hospitals and use toilet paper to give them bandages and things like that!

I just loved it.

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I always remember, when I was little my parents bought me one of those toy medical kits, you know it's got a pretend stethoscope on and a tendon hammer and weird things like that in it.

They said I could only have it if I didn't bite my nails for a week because they were desperately trying to get me to stop biting my nails, I mean it didn't work because I still bite them now!

But they bought this little kit and said ‘if you go a whole week without biting your nails, you can have it’ and I was absolutely devastated because I bit my nails on, like, day three and I was so gutted because I thought I wasn't gonna get it and I desperately wanted this little toy medical kit, I mean literally hysterically crying on the way home from school when I realized that I wasn't gonna get it.

Then my dad accidentally shut my fingers in the car door when he was taking me to my dance lesson that evening and he felt so bad about it they decided to give me the medical kit even though I had bitten my nails, and I was over the moon!

Let me tell you, the second the pain wore off my finger hurting I was over the moon. I genuinely had this little toy medical kit for years.

I was going around the house pretending to listen to everyone's heart, I was loving life!

Play video: find out what Chloe wishes she knew before mental health nursing!

"I'm also a massive history nerd -I was incredibly inspired by Florence Nightingale!"

I personally would say that I've always been a very caring person.

I was always the buddy for the new kids at school, always looking out for people, you know if I saw somebody upset or somebody hurt I would just naturally want to help them.

I also signed up for first aid courses and CPR courses that you can sometimes do when you're in school.

I signed up for everything like that because I just loved it.

I found it so interesting and I just wanted to help people, so I guess in that sense nursing was a very natural career for me to go into.

I'm also a massive history nerd!

I was incredibly inspired by Florence Nightingale who is, as I'm sure you're aware, like the founder of modern nursing.

Her treatment of soldiers during the Crimean War revolutionized Nursing as a profession - not only did she massively improve the care that those soldiers received, she also changed the way that the nursing profession was viewed by both doctors and other medical professionals and the public as a whole.

How unbelievable is it to think that one woman is responsible for that?!

I can only dream of making changes as she did in my career, I mean I'm not necessarily gonna be disappointed if it's not quite on her scale like I'm not expecting to revolutionize nursing, but I would love to really make a difference and improve the care that patients receive, particularly obviously mental health because that is my area of interest.

My biggest goal one day is to conduct my own research to do a PhD, and as a result of that to be able to change something and change the way we do something so the patient's get better care and we get better outcomes.

Play video: Chloe shares the experiences she's had as a newly qualified nurse!

"I particularly became interested in mental health kind in my early teenage years"

So despite my love of sort of all things nursing, when I was younger I kind of moved away a little bit from that as I got a bit older.

I used to be a dancer when I was younger, for anyone that doesn't know.

I kind of used to flip between wanting to go into dancing as a profession and wanting to go into various other sorts of things, but every career that I considered was kind of always around caring for people or looking after people.

I particularly became interested in mental health kind in my early teenage years I would say, and I was really seriously considering becoming kind of like a therapist or a counsellor, maybe.

I even considered studying medicine with the end goal of becoming a psychiatrist!

I would say my interest in mental health kind of started as a fascination - I watched a lot of documentaries about mental illness and about people receiving mental health care.

I don't know if any of you guys ever watched the BBC series ‘Don’t call me crazy’ but that program had a massive influence on me and I think that was, for me, the deciding point of going into mental health.

I just found it incredible what our brains are capable of and the fact that the jury is still out on what causes mental illness just fascinated me.

I couldn't believe how much mental illness could impact on someone's life, and to be honest with you, the stigma then and now just still baffles me - it's not like somebody chooses to become mentally ill.

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I think it's quite common in our society for us to have stigma around people that make poor choices, but with mental illness that isn't the case, so it just baffled me that we as a society have this kind of stigma and how we don't have that same stigma for physical illness.

For example, if someone were to injure themselves whilst incredibly drunk and they end up on crutches, most people would probably still hold the door open for them and help them in whatever way they can, despite the fact it was their own poor choice that got them in that situation.

Yet, with people with mental illness the general public doesn't seem to be as forgiving and as understanding, even though they haven't done anything wrong.

That's just something that I've always found very very strange.

Stigma around mental illness is definitely getting better, you know you only need to look at the differences between my parents’ generation and my generation and that things are changing, but we've still got a way to go and that's definitely something that I want to be a part of.

“I couldn't believe how much mental illness could impact on someone's life, and to be honest with you, the stigma then and now just still baffles me”

The demonisation of people with mental illness, particularly within the media, is always something that has angered me.

It did when I was younger but even more so now that I'm a professional working in this field.

Quite often when there are news stories or documentaries made about, for example, people with psychosis, they are presented as these evil people.

I think the media is also very guilty of underestimating the resilience of people with, for example, depression and anxiety.

I think a lot of newspapers nowadays write it off like it's a fad, you know ‘everyone has depression and anxiety these days and you just pop some pills and you feel better’ or almost mocking people that they feel they need those pills to live a normal life.

I just find it really shocking that we as a society think that is acceptable, that we allow the media to talk about people with mental illness this way.

Statistics vary depending on where your sources are but it's kind of around one in three or one in four people that are going to experience a mental illness at some point in their life, so why is there still this stigma?

This is something that was incredibly empowering to me even as a teenager without any real knowledge of mental illness.

I still knew that this wasn't right and that's definitely something that inspired me to become a nurse because I just thought this needs to change, this is not okay.

Play video: are you thinking of becoming a mental health nurse? Here's how you can get into nursing school!

“Mental health nursing wasn’t ever on my radar as a career that I could potentially do”

All of this was going on in the background, and I got to the point of year 12 where I kind of knew roughly what I wanted to do but I didn't know what career I needed to go into to do what I wanted to do if that makes sense.

So I went to a careers advisor in year 12 because it's something that is organised for everyone, you automatically got a careers advisor appointment.

So I went along thinking that this was probably gonna be a complete waste of my time.

I told the careers advisor my areas of interest and we were talking through my different options; studying psychology, studying counselling, doing medicine, and it was her that first told me about mental health nursing because it's not something that I had ever come across before.

I mean, of course, I was watching documentaries where nurses were giving care to mental health patients but I don't think it was ever on my radar as a career that I could potentially do.

For me, the things that really shifted my focus and make me decide on nursing was just I loved that element of hands-on care.

One of the things I was really uncomfortable with, about the idea of being a counsellor or a therapist, is that I see someone for an hour a week and that was it - they would just have to go and get on with their lives and I wouldn't be able to continue to support them as they try and implement the things that we've been doing in our one-hour session.

That was the extent of my involvement with that one-hour session, I didn't get to keep supporting them and helping them along the way.

So, I love that with nursing I know that I am here to deliver you know round-the-clock care from working on mental health wards.

I can tell you that a lot of people really struggle around the evenings and night times, and I love the fact that as a nurse I can be there for them at that time which is so difficult.

Of course, that isn't underestimating the incredible work that some therapists and counsellors do, but for me, that just didn't sit right with me that didn't sit right with what I wanted to do.

I wanted to be there giving people care when they needed it, not when they were scheduled for an appointment with me.

I also liked the fact that you got patient contact so early on in your training with mental health nursing, for example, if I'd done psychology I wouldn't have had any real patient contact depending on the course, but for the majority of the course you don't have any patient contact for the entire course so I would have gone three years discussing mental illness and discussing the psychology of it and things like that, without ever coming into contact with a person.

I just didn't like the idea of that - I'm getting into this career because I want to help people, so how would reading textbooks get me to that point?!

"I wanted to be there giving people care when they needed it, not when they were scheduled for an appointment with me."

With nursing that's certainly not an issue because in my degree I had six weeks at university having an introduction to nursing and an introduction to mental health, and then I went straight out into the wards on my first placement, and it was such an incredible experience because it reminded me exactly why I was doing what I was doing.

For me personally, if I'd have been doing a purely theoretical based degree like psychology I would have dropped out, I just wouldn't have had that determination and drive that I got through during my placements as a student nurse.

Nursing as a degree is quite challenging at times, but I had those experiences with patients that I could reflect on when I was having a really difficult time, you know if I was struggling to write an essay or running on very little sleep because I was so busy.

I had experiences where I had made a difference and when I had helped patients that I could reflect on and go, okay I know this is really tough right now but this is why I'm doing it to do things like this and to help people like this.

So yeah, I think that’s everything I wanted to mention in this video.

It's those kinds of things that inspired me and the journey that I took to get to where I am now.

I have to say I am very, very excited for the future - I'm due to start my masters in September, I'm gonna do that part-time alongside working full-time, so it's gonna be a challenge but I really just want to push myself to be the best nurse that I can be and to hopefully make changes to the nursing profession and definitely the care that patients receive.

Don't forget to leave me a comment down below, I always love to have a chat with you guys to hear about your experience with you or someone that's considering going into nursing.

Whether you're already a nurse or you're a student nurse I just love having chats with you guys in the comments down below!

Of course, give the video a big thumbs up and hit subscribe if you enjoyed it and as I said all the links for Nurses.co.uk will be in the description box down below.

I will see you again next time!

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About the author

  • Chloe Lawrence
    Registered Mental Health Nurse

I qualified as a Mental Health Nurse (RMN) in August of 2018 and started as a newly qualified nurse shortly after. On top of nursing I juggle creating content for both my YouTube channel and blog.

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  • Chloe Lawrence
    Registered Mental Health Nurse

About the author

  • Chloe Lawrence
    Registered Mental Health Nurse

I qualified as a Mental Health Nurse (RMN) in August of 2018 and started as a newly qualified nurse shortly after. On top of nursing I juggle creating content for both my YouTube channel and blog.