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9 Oct 2018

A Day in the Life of a Mental Health Nurse

With one in four people being affected with Mental Health problems in any given year it’s essential that we treat and take care of it in the same way that we do our physical health.

On World Mental Health Day we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the important role of mental health nurses in supporting those suffering with mental health problems. We decided to catch up with Sylvester Chirinda, who is one of MSI’s fantastic Registered Mental Health Nurses (RMN), to find out more about the day to day responsibilities, rewards and challenges in  

Hi Sylvester, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Please could you describe your daily job duties and responsibilities in a nutshell?

My job is incredibly diverse and can vary day to day. I would say my main duties and responsibilities include:

  • Assist in leading and monitoring the performance of the nursing team
  • Contributing in maintaining and improving standards of care
  • Promote positive team culture and team working
  • Promote positive mental health practice
  • Promote a positive environment on the ward
  • Delegate, monitor and evaluate the performance of members of the team
  • Act in accordance with the NMC code of Professional Practice
  • Assessment of care needs and the development, implementation and evaluation of programmes of care
  • Participate fully in the overall care as per Care Plan
  • To be vigilant of risk always and report accordingly
  • Ensure that nursing practice on the ward complies with the organisational policies and procedures
  • Assist in the maintenance of accurate records in terms of the legal requirements
  • Planning, organisation and deployment of staff according to competencies and workload to meet service user needs
  • Administer medication in accordance with the policies
  • Supporting the implementation and maintenance of the Nursing Team by effective communication

What motivates you at work?

I’m always enthusiastic and driven by the desire to do well and see my patients recover. I believe it’s important to continue my learning and development through studies; I am currently studying for a PhD in Forensic Mental Health Nursing.

In my work I enjoy problem solving, through identifying problems and developing a creative solution.  I strive to lead by example so that my team have someone to look to for guidance.

 What advice would you give to anyone looking to begin a career as mental health nurse?

Mental Health Nursing is totally different from working in medical words.  It is a demanding but rewarding career. It involves engaging with people to promote and support their recovery and enabling them to have more involvement and control over their condition. As a result, you have the chance to make a difference. There is also a high degree of flexibility that within the branch of mental health nursing you can specialise into psychiatric intensive care units, psychiatric wards, outpatient units, speciality units, forensic etc. You can also work at GP Surgeries, prison, community health centres, residential centres etc.

Why did you decide to become a mental health nurse?

I wanted to have time with patients, to help them make sense of their thoughts, feelings and their illness. It is important to have time with them to talk about their feelings which they maybe feel they cannot discuss with family and friends. I feel that it is incredibly important to support people who are facing some of their most difficult situations and be a part of helping to resolving them.  

What is the biggest challenge in your work?

Morale can be low, with people feeling stretched and overworked. Issues with lack of funding can be frustrating, as can a lack of control over operating conditions.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part of the work for me is seeing a person who was in crisis being discharged or stepping down into a less restrictive ward. It’s always nice to receive patient acknowledgement as to how they have been supported to get better. 


We would like to thank Sylvester Chirinda for his time and sharing his experience as a Registered Mental Health Nurse. It’s proven to be a really fantastic insight into life as a Mental Health Nurse.

If you are a RMN and are looking for working we have many roles across the country, to register with MSI send your CV to mentalhealthnursing@msirecruitment.com