Meet the academic: Laurence Drew
Laurence Drew, Teaching Fellow in Mental Health, explains why mental health is important today, reveals what Surrey is looking for in a mental health nursing student and what you can expect when you qualify.
What's your background in mental health?
My name is Laurence Drew and I’m the Programme Leader of the BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Registered Nurse Mental Health Nursing) course. I’m incredibly passionate about mental health, supporting service users who present with significant risks, and creating effective individualised care for them.
Since qualifying as a mental health nurse, I’ve worked in a variety of settings, including community mental health, psychiatric liaison and forensic services. Along the way, I’ve met many inspirational people – some have been colleagues, but many have been the patients themselves. They’ve shared how mental health has influenced them and they’ve taught me a lot about myself.
As a lecturer, I’m honoured to be training the next generation of mental health nurses and using my experiences to prepare you for your future career.
Why's mental health important?
Mental health affects us all and we can all expect to be impacted by it throughout our lives. Our understanding of mental health is still in its infancy and there’s still a lot to learn. This is a key time for mental health in the UK – its finally a part of the conversation and there’s a lot of activity around awareness and encouraging people to think differently. It’s important that we continue to develop our mental health services and one of the best places to do that is through education – at Surrey, we’re making big changes to how we deliver our health education and mental health is core to these.
There’s currently very little training around working with individuals who’ve had contact with the criminal justice system and we’re integrating this into our curriculum, to prepare you for a career in this growing specialism.
What are you looking for in a mental health nursing student?
We want you to be dynamic, driven and people-orientated - someone who’ll strive to create a better level of care for people. You’ll treat your patients as individuals and will take the time to understand who they are, what they need, and how you can best provide care.
Mental health affects us all, and we want you to recognise and actively promote this in your life, both professionally and personally. It’s only by embracing this approach, that we can all work together to break stigma, and encourage people to access help and support across all ages.
At Surrey, we understand and accept mental health as a key component of healthcare provision but there is still much more we can do to make a difference – and that difference could be you.
What can I expect as a mental health nurse?
It can be hard, scary and frustrating for all involved, but the feeling of helping somebody and playing a role in their recovery journey, is incredibly rewarding.
If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend getting some work experience in a mental health setting, shadowing healthcare professionals and meeting people. This’ll give you an insight into mental health care provision and will allow you to interact with patients.
Mental health isn’t an ‘exact science’ - it’s about people and their individual life experiences. Mental health nursing pushes the boundaries of care and as a nurse, you’ll be on the frontlines, supporting your patients’ recoveries.
Image credit: Alex Forrelly Photography