Addressing Gaps in Mental Health and Addictions Nursing Leadership: An Innovative Professional Development Initiative

Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont). 2017;30(3):23-42. doi: 10.12927/cjnl.2018.25387.


Mental health and addictions services are integral to Canada's healthcare system, and yet it is difficult to recruit experienced nurse leaders with advanced practice, management or clinical informatics expertise in this field. Master's-level graduates, aspiring to be mental health nurse leaders, often lack the confidence and experience required to lead quality improvement, advancements in clinical care, service design and technology innovations for improved patient care. This paper describes an initiative that develops nursing leaders through a unique scholarship, internship and mentorship model, which aims to foster confidence, critical thinking and leadership competency development in the mental health and addictions context. The "Mutual Benefits Model" framework was applied in the design and evaluation of the initiative. It outlines how mentee, mentor and organizational needs can drive strategic planning of resource investment, mentorship networks and relevant leadership competency-based learning plans to optimize outcomes. Five-year individual and organizational outcomes are described.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Mental Disorders / nursing
  • Mentors
  • Psychiatric Nursing / education*
  • Psychiatric Nursing / organization & administration*
  • Staff Development / organization & administration*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / nursing