Mental health nurses in primary care: Qualitative outcomes of the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program


  • Richard Lakeman, DipNsg, BN, BA Hons, PgDip (Psychotherapy), DNSc.

Correspondence: Richard Lakeman, School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia. Email:


The Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) is a government-funded programme, which, since 2007, has enabled mental health nurses to work in primary care settings in Australia in collaboration with general practitioners (GPs) or private psychiatrists. To date, small-scale qualitative studies have explored outcomes of the programme from the point of view of nurses, consumers, and the perceptions of GPs. This study reports on an on-line survey of credentialed mental health nurses perceptions of outcomes of the MHNIP. Two hundred and twenty five nurses who worked in MHNIP provided detailed narrative responses that were examined using thematic content analysis. The most commonly-cited outcomes were reductions in symptoms or improved coping, improved relationships, and enhanced community participation. Other reported outcomes included reduced hospitalization or use of state-funded mental health services, better use of health services, the continuation or establishment of meaningful occupation, improved physical health and medication management, less use of coercive interventions, and greater independence.