New mental health book for nurses

December 08 2022

White curve
A new book by Charlie Waller trainer Dr Sheila Hardy offers guidance to nurses and allied healthcare professionals on supporting people with mental health problems

Primary care services are the first point of contact in the UK healthcare system - the ‘front door’ of the NHS. Primary care includes general practice, community pharmacy, dental, and optometry services. It is the first place people go to for healthcare advice and support.

It is thought that one in three people attending primary care has a mental health problem.

Dr Sheila Hardy is a Charlie Waller mental health trainer. Her new book seeks to deepen the knowledge of nurses and other health professionals around mental health and wellbeing. It aims to help them feel more able to meet the needs of the people they see every day in a holistic way.

Recognising mental health problems

Although it estimated that around 30% of people attending primary care have a mental health problem, many of them do not talk about their mental health to primary care staff when they visit. This might be because they are unaware they may have a mental health issue or don't consider themselves to have one, or simply that it's not something they wish to discuss. Consequently, they may attend repeatedly before their underlying mental health problem is recognised.

The result of this is that many people are not receiving support and treatment which could be of considerable value to them. It is especially significant at this point in time - since the pandemic, we have seen an increase in anxiety, isolation and other mental health issues.

There are other factors, too, that make this a particularly timely book: we have an aging population and more people coping with chronic physical and mental health conditions. Many of these people need more support than they are currently getting. 

Dr Sheila Hardy

Dr Sheila Hardy

Support to live well

For instance, people with long-term physical conditions such as diabetes are more likely to have mental health issues and will be healthier if both their physical and mental health is considered.

Those with severe mental illness and a learning disability are more likely to die early from a physical cause than the rest of the population so they need proactive monitoring and encouragement, to promote healthy behaviour.

People with dementia and their carers need support to live well; and those who are addicted to substances or behaviours need help to manage their dependence.

Treating the whole person

This 'whole person' approach can be very beneficial and there is a golden opportunity to offer it in primary care as most mental health support is provided by GPs, nurses and allied healthcare professionals working in primary care settings. However, many nurses and allied healthcare professionals have not undertaken any formal training in mental health.

The Charlie Waller Trust provides training for healthcare professionals in primary care with the aim of helping them feel more able to meet the holistic needs of the people they see in healthcare settings every day. This book acts as a manual to accompany the training and as a learning resource in its own right. 

You can find out more about the book and order it here.


Topics covered include:

  • Promoting wellbeing
  • Encouraging healthy behaviour
  • Common mental disorders
  • Severe mental illness
  • Learning disability
  • Dementia
  • Addiction

The book features:

  • Clear learning outcomes for each chapter
  • Foreword by Lord Nigel Crisp, Chief Executive of the NHS in England and Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health 2000 - 2006


Author Dr Sheila Hardy PhD MSc BSc NISP RMN RGN has 20 years' clinical experience in primary care.

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