This International Nurses Day the theme is “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health”.  This theme resonates so strongly with our work at Jaya Mental Health as it is at the heart of our approach to improving mental health in South Asia. We focus heavily on empowering and upskilling nurses to deliver and shape mental health services. All our programmes provide training and then crucial long-term supervision and support to Nurses, health professionals and community health volunteers.

One of these programmes is training newly recruited school nurses to enable them to provide mental health support to students and become a lead on mental health matters in the school.

Leading on this exciting programme is our very own, Sagoon K.C., Nurse Program Manager at Jaya Mental Health Nepal. Here we find out more about her motivations and challenges.

Why did you want to become a Nurse?

I grew up in a strict family and so I always wanted to be independent and free. I also wanted an international exposure in my bachelor’s degree so that I can broaden my horizon of thinking. This led me into Nursing.

What are the challenges of being a Nurse in Nepal?

In Nepal, there is a lack of trained professionals in the field of Nursing. In most hospitals there are very few Nurses to patients and so Nurses have many more patients to care for and often resources are scarce.

Nurses have low salaries despite the high costs of education and once you become a Nurse there is a lack of on-the-job training and limited support systems in place.

In Nepal, no nurses are in the level of policy or decision making, instead mostly doctors or male health professionals lead on policies. There is a big hierarchical gap between nurses and doctors and a general lack of respect for the job of a Nurse.

Often Nurses have low job satisfaction resulting in burnout and moral injury and as nursing is a female dominating profession in Nepal, managing professional and personal life is a great challenge.

 What is your role at Jaya Mental Health?

Currently, I look after the school health nurse program where we are training 40 school health nurses in 40 government schools in Nepal. Most of the schools all over Nepal have very minimal exposure to the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of the children and adolescents.

That’s why there are various psychosocial issues arising in the students. That’s where the role of the school health nurse comes to be very important when they are trained to address their psychosocial needs and Jaya Mental Health’s role in building their capacity in mental health and psychosocial wellbeing becomes unique and important.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

We have a small versatile team but sometimes it can feel overwhelming with the number of projects and activities we want to achieve.

How have your team helped support your role?

The team have always been supportive, empathetic, and motivating in every situation and I am allowed to design the project activities by myself according to the need of the beneficiaries.

What practices do you think are important for your role?

Taking care of myself, being an empathetic listener and practicing a non-judgmental approach are all important in my role.

What parts of your job do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy working with the nurses in different settings, travelling and sharing the knowledge I have in the field of mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

Which parts are not so enjoyable?

Seeing the unmotivated government bureaucracy which sometimes becomes a hurdle in implementing the projects and activities.

What do you hope for in your future career?

That the team at Jaya Mental Health grows bigger and continues to follow its vision. Personally, I would like to engage in further training and workshops to develop myself.

This International Nurses Day, Jaya Mental Health wishes to thank our team of nurses and health professionals as well as celebrate all the nurses around the globe who work tirelessly to care and have a huge impact on our lives.