The recruitment and retention of mental health nurses within acute inpatient mental health facilities continues to be an ongoing issue. Literature and current research highlight an environment fraught with pressure and stress, identifying several key factors contributing to job dissatisfaction. These factors include greater patient acuity, unpredictable and challenging workspaces, violence, increased paperwork, and reduced managerial support. This qualitative, critical, feminist exploration investigated the lived experiences of 13 female mental health nurses working in inpatient services. They were asked about their practice and perceptions of workplace culture, and they shared their thoughts on stress management and professional well-being. Positive workplace practice was highlighted, and the participants revealed an environment they were proud to be a part of. Individual interviews, focus groups, and reflective practice were all used to collect data. The findings from the investigation unanimously support current literature that clearly confirms mental health nursing to be stressful. Interestingly, however, the findings also clearly identified that the way in which the nurse participants managed their stress was intrinsically linked to their job satisfaction. The major theme identified throughout the present study revealed that the female participants' ability to manage an at times complex workspace through the notions of teamwork, diversity, and creativity. All of the participants considered these elements as significant to providing a high standard in patient care. This research might provide an opportunity for others to view mental health nursing from a different perspective, and through the lived experiences of the participants, embrace the positive and rewarding aspects of the role.
© 2011 The Author. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing © 2011 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.