It's the anxiety: Facilitators and inhibitors to nursing students' career interests in mental health nursing

Brenda HAPPELL, Chris PLATANIA-PHUNG, Scott Harris, Julie Bradshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing the rate of recruitment of nursing students into mental health nursing (MHN) is vital to long-term sustainability of health care system support for people diagnosed with mental illness. However MHN is not a popular career path; this raises questions about what attitudes and beliefs may divert or attract students to this specialisation. The current research involved a survey of undergraduate nursing students at a regional university in Australia to clarify the nature of relationships between attitudes (e.g., the value of mental health nursing, stereotypes of people with mental illness) and how they may be antecedents to considering MHN as a career path. Through a structural equation model, it was ascertained that anxiety surrounding mental illness leads to less interest in MHN as a future career and suggests that anxiety is (a) partly due to negative stereotypes, and (b) countered by preparedness for a MHN role. Beliefs on how MHN can make a valuable contribution to people's well-being did not affect interest in pursuing MHN. These findings reconfirm the need to reduce anxiety about mental illness by educational approaches that effectively prepare students for MHN, combined with challenging negative stereotypes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-57
Number of pages8
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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