Published on: 10th May 2024

Emma Bryant is a trainee approved clinician with our child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

Emma Bryant nurses badgesEmma has worked in mental health nursing for 14 years supporting young people and families. She has progressed through from a nursing assistant, charge nurse, ward manager, clinical nurse specialist, advanced practitioner, to her current role providing advanced clinical leadership.

Why I became a mental health nurse

"I remember sitting down with a man who had dementia on a placement and he was on thickened feeds. And I remember feeding him and he said ‘oh, yeah, you're going to walk away now’.

So I sat and spoke to him for a while and at the end he fell asleep. It was at that point I realised I want to do something where it's OK for me to sit down and talk to people - because I feel like he got so much more out of me sitting and talking to him.

And it became clear to me that a lot of what people need is just someone to be nice and be around them and to have someone to talk to.

My skill set was identifying that this guy wanted to talk to someone. He just wanted someone to make him feel a bit better for 10 minutes in his day.

And that's what landed me in mental health.”

Feeling privileged to work in CAMHS

“We're so privileged to do what we do. We ask people to let us into their lives and make themselves so incredibly vulnerable and tell us some of the scariest things that happen in their lives. And they trust us to help them. You have to give a little bit of yourself to build trust.

Children have so much potential. There is so much we can do to help them.

When I started my career, I bought a lever arch file to build a portfolio. And now I can't close the file, it’s full of stuff that kids have made me when they've moved on or they've gone home.

Every single child that goes home from hospital is a success story.

By the end of it they're giving you a hug and saying bye, going home to mum and dad, and going out with mates and stuff like that.”

Advice for future nurses

“Nursing is an incredibly hard career. But as hard as it is, it’s equal parts rewarding.

It impacts on every aspect of your life. You can't be a nurse just in work, but it’s a privilege to be able to introduce yourself as a nurse. I'm really proud to say I'm a nurse. I'm really proud that my kids can say I'm a nurse.

It's more than just a job. It's your whole life. It's everything and we have such a unique access to people to be able to make a difference.

It's so powerful to be able to get even just a handwritten piece of paper that says “I'll remember you. Thank you for this.”

In some ways maybe it's a little bit of a selfish career because a lot of what we do to make people feel better actually makes us feel good, because we make a difference, and we change things.

14 years down the line, I still want to do it and it's definitely worth it.”