Mental health nursing—an overview of its development

Chatterton, Claire (2012). Mental health nursing—an overview of its development. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 6(12) pp. 612–617.




This article seeks to give an overview of the history and development of mental health nursing and in particular the role of health care assistants. It will explore how the building of large Victorian asylums led to the recruitment of large numbers of men and women to become asylum attendants. Little, if any, training was provided until a national training scheme for attendants (or the new title of mental nurses) was established in 1891. Nurses' registration followed in 1919 but the distinction between registered and unregistered or trained and untrained was not really made until after the Second World War, when the role of nursing assistant or orderly became recognised as complementary to but different from that of a registered nurse.

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