An exploration of the factors influencing career choice in mental health

K McKenzie, A Murray, Matthew Cooper, R Martin, K Murray, C Baguley, A Chiscop

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Aims and objectives
To identify the factors that are associated with considering a career in mental health.

The mental health specialty is facing a recruitment crisis in the United Kingdom but there is limited evidence about which factors encourage and discourage people from considering a career in mental health.

Quantitative, observational, online survey using a multiple ordinal logistic regression model to identify if there were any significant predictors of the extent to which participants would consider a career in mental health. The design and write up of the study were guided by the STROBE checklist.

We gathered the views of 231 participants (female = 188, 81.7%) aged between 16–65 (mean = 22.7, SD = 8.9), using an online survey, the majority of whom were studying on, or graduates of, psychology/social studies degrees. Information was gathered about the extent to which a range of factors influenced consideration of a career in mental health.

The majority (71.2%) of participants reported that they would definitely or probably consider undertaking a career in mental health, and over half (51.4%) would consider a career as a mental health nurse. The ability to help others and receiving appropriate training required for the role were important career choice factors. Being female, having a mental health condition and greater knowledge of mental health were associated with a significantly greater likelihood of considering a career in mental health, while having had experience of working with people with mental health difficulties was significantly negatively associated.

Students and graduates of psychology and social studies degrees appear to be a large, untapped recruitment pool for mental health services.

Relevance to clinical practice
The results can inform more targeted recruitment strategies and development of suitable career pathways for those interested in a career in mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3764-3773
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2020


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