Practice nurse gets MH stamp of approval

1 December 2012

The first primary health nurse to gain formal recognition for her mental health nursing skills has been credentialed and others are due to follow.

Anne MacLean, who works in a primary mental health nurse role for East Tamaki Health Care, successfully sought her mental health credential under the framework developed by the New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses.

Jo Harry, college and credentialing manager, said the aim of credentialing was to help primary health care meet the mental health and addiction needs of their enrolled populations.

“We know from the research that there is a relationship between mental disorder and chronic physical conditions, and at any one time, 20 per cent of the population suffer from mental health and addiction issues.”

The framework, supported by Health Workforce New Zealand, also aims to help PHC nurses work at the top of their scope by setting down the knowledge and skill standards required to “competently and confidently” provide a primary care response to people with mental health or addiction problems. Being credentialed means a nurse has specific skills in basic mental health and addiction assessment and intervention but not to the specialist level required for mental health nursing.

Harry said Rotorua Area Primary Health Services and Northland’s Manaia Health and Te Tai Tokerau PHOs (primary health organisations) were also progressing with upskilling and credentialing nurses and were looking to their local district health boards for support with training and mentoring.

Initially, under a planned HWNZ innovation project, the large Auckland PHO ProCare was to develop a mental health skills training programme for general registered nurses to be rolled out across the country, but this had not eventuated.

More information about the credentialing process can be found at the College’s website:

Meanwhile, credentialing is part of the College’s overarching Accreditation, Certification and Credentialing Framework and the College is in the early planning phase for introducing a certification process for mental health nurses.