chapter  2
15 Pages

No such thing as society – sociological aspects of community psychiatric nursing

Any discussion about what job title best describes the CPN these days seems to centre on whether we are Community Psychiatric Nurses or Community Mental Health Nurses. Do we want to continue to be associated with psychiatry, and would it not be better if we focused on mental health rather than mental illness? This is a debate taken up by Liam Clarke in his book Challenging Ideas in Psychiatric Nursing. Clarke describes the recommendation that all psychiatric nurses should be awarded the title ‘mental health nurse’ as ‘quite astonishing for whatever chance one might have of defining mental illness, defining mental health . . . would be a formidable task indeed’ (Clarke 1999: 9). He suggests that, given that all three terms (‘community’, ‘psychiatric’ and ‘nurse’) are ‘problematic’, any analysis of community psychiatric nursing must deal with the meanings to which these words give rise.