There is no health without mental health: Are we educating Australian nurses to care for the health consumer of the 21st Century?
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One in five Australians has a diagnosable mental illness and the impact of the illness on the individual, their family, and the community is significant. Since comprehensive nursing was introduced in the 1980s there have been repeated concerns raised regarding the preparedness of graduates from Australian undergraduate nursing programs to care for people who have a mental illness. In 2009, despite a recent comprehensive national review of the mental health/ illness content in pre-registration curricula, these concerns remain. The nursing profession must have a responsibility to the global community to ensure that registered nurses are educated to meet evolving health challenges and the needs of the health consumer in the 21st century. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the prevalence and impact of mental illness on health care outcomes in all settings and to challenge the profession to acknowledge that mental health nursing content must be a core area of all undergraduate curricula. A nationally coordinated response to address the long standing identified deficits in the educational preparation of comprehensive nurses is now a priority to ensure that nurses remain a major stakeholder group in the delivery of health care and key health informants and decision makers within the global health care arena.
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