A SENIOR nurse is encouraging more people to consider a career in mental health.

The appeal has gone out to mark the second annual Mental Health Nurses’ Day on Friday, February 21.

Steve Forsyth, director of nursing for Mental Health & Learning Disabilities at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), has 20 years of experience. He describes the profession as 'more than just a job' and a 'way of life, an adventure and a privilege.'

BCUHB has a shortage of mental health nurses. About 20 per cent of vacancies unfilled.

Mr Forsyth said: “We’re always looking to recruit outstanding people to join our teams. There are so many diverse opportunities across the region in inpatient settings and our community teams. These include working with people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, addiction and eating disorders.

"There are real opportunities for people to progress throughout their career and we offer a supportive environment which enables our nurses to continuously improve their skills and knowledge.

"The privilege of being a mental health nurse means that I’d do my twenty plus years again in a heartbeat."

To mark Mental Health Nurses’ Day, staff across the region have been sharing what makes the profession so special.

Lyn Maclean, psychiatric liaison team manager at Glan Clwyd Hospital, said: "Having the ability, skills, knowledge and most importantly, the time to spend with individuals who require compassion, kindness and a listening ear in their time of need makes the role so special.

“A career in mental health nursing can be varied, allowing for many amazing opportunities in all aspects of mental health care."

Hayley Kay, who works at Glan Clwyd Hospital’s Ablett Unit, qualified as a mental health nurse four years ago. She has been appointed as deputy ward manager of an older person’s mental health ward.

She said: "No day is the same in mental health nursing and although it can be challenging at times, it is also really worthwhile. Steering someone to recovery and watching them come out the other side of acute illness is very rewarding."

Mental Health Nurses’ Day is an annual celebration to promote and celebrate the work of mental health nurses across the United Kingdom.

It forms part of BCUHB’s wider celebrations to mark the World Health Organisation designating 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Mental Health Nursing degree courses are delivered by Bangor University, with students able to study at campuses in Bangor or Wrexham.

Unlike in England, people studying at Welsh Universities qualify for the NHS Wales nursing bursary, which means that fees are paid and living cost contributions may be available.

The Welsh Government have confirmed that the scheme will be extended to nurses beginning their studies in the 2020-21 academic year.