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Supporting mindful nursing

A mental health nurse working at Aberdeen’s Royal Cornhill Hospital, Tori Petrini wanted to explore the possibility of using mindfulness as a therapy option for her patients.

She was awarded a fully funded place on our online short course Discovering Mindfulness.

We got in touch with Tori to discuss the course and how she’s using the new techniques she’s learned in her practice.

This is Tori’s story.

I moved to Aberdeen from Australia in 2018, where I’d completed my BSc Nursing and PgDip Nursing. Originally, I’d intended to do emergency nursing. When you study nursing in Australia, you come out with both general and mental health qualifications, meaning you can work in almost any nursing setting.

It was only in my graduate year, though, that I discovered my passion for mental health nursing.

I’ve been qualified for 11 years now, and since moving to Aberdeen I’ve been working at Royal Cornhill Hospital. I love my work, but things are definitely getting a lot more challenging in mental healthcare in the current circumstances.

I love my work, but things are definitely getting a lot more challenging in mental healthcare under the current circumstances.

Mindfulness as therapy

Mindfulness is definitely becoming more recognised in the practice as an emerging recovery option for mental health patients. A lot of my colleagues who work in the community definitely rely on mindfulness techniques more than we would in a patient unit, mainly because they have a lot more time and set hours with individual patients than we do.

Unfortunately, mindfulness isn’t part of the curriculum for training nurses in Australia at present. Students might touch on it briefly in postgraduate training, but generally there’s less of a focus on therapies in training.

But knowing that my colleagues here are actually using it out in the community, and realising that mindfulness is an emerging recovery option, I started thinking about how I could bring some of the techniques into the unit.

I wanted to be able to start working on some techniques so that when they go back out into the community, they can build on them with their case workers.

Benefitting healthcare professionals

While I’ve absolutely got some go-to skills down pat that I use with my patients, I must admit that I can’t do mindfulness for myself. I don’t have the self-discipline.

That said, I do think we as nurses could benefit from some mindfulness techniques and strategies ourselves, especially now. We’ve had several really stressful months recently, and so coming together after a shift to have a quick debrief and reflective practice is definitely something we can start to implement in the unit.

Mindfulness is definitely becoming more recognised in the practice as an emerging recovery option for mental health patients.

The course was really relevant to my work. I actually used one of my patients as an example when I was doing my assessment. The patient had a diagnosis recurring depression, and wanted to uncover some coping strategies to use if they became stressed or anxious when out in the community.

I was immediately able to offer some the techniques I’d learned on the course, in particular the ‘RAIN’ technique and different breathing techniques. I built on them with the patient and suggested a couple of apps that they could use.

The patient then had a foundation on which they could continue to work with their case manager. The found it really helpful, and I was delighted that I was able to use techniques and knowledge that I’d picked up on the course to ultimately help one of my patients get better.

I do think we as nurses could benefit from some mindfulness techniques and strategies ourselves, especially now. We’ve had several really stressful months recently.

I couldn’t have done the course without the funding opportunity. I don’t have that sort of money sitting around, and so I was really, really happy to be given a place, especially now that I know how practically useful it’s been.