Integrating mental health into the basic nursing curriculum: Benefits and opportunities
Integration of mental health into the basic nursing curricula provides an environment for and affords students an opportunity to learn how a client should be treated holistically. Nurses constitute the largest proportion of health workers in most countries of the world. They work in the remotest areas where there are hardly any doctors. It is therefore, imperative that their training embraces both the mental and physical health aspects in its initial stages to enable nurses to provide comprehensive care. This paper presents a case study on how nursing schools in Botswana have incorporated mental health into their curriculum and the benefits and opportunities of such integration. This case study reviewed the nursing curricula and carried out in-depth interviews with 20 graduates of the basic Nursing programmes from the Institutes of Health Sciences and the University of Botswana who were at the time of study deployed at the psychiatric hospital and 5 lecturers who teach in these institutions on their views about the curricula. The analysis followed the steps proposed by Burnard (1990) where transcripts were read over and over again by two independent investigators which allowed them to get immersed in the data .Documentary review and analysis of the nursing curricula at these institutions was also carried out. Graduates reported that compartmentalization of courses hinders integration. Faculty members decried the uniform model used for both clinical and non-clinical programmes in their institutions. The study concludes that for nurses to provide quality holistic care there is a need to integrate mental health into the basic nursing curricula.
Keywords: Botswana; basic nursing curricula, integration of mental health.