Mental health nurse Sam calls on others to consider career in profession

Sam Holmes.

After choosing a life of adventure in the Merchant Navy, a nursing dream was reawakened for Sam Holmes, and after 12 years as a mental health nurse he hasn’t looked back.

Northallerton resident Sam, clinical lead of the wellbeing in mind team for Hambleton and Richmondshire, is now calling on others this National Mental Health Nurses Day to consider a career in this much needed profession.

As a teenager Sam loved the BBC drama Casualty and Charlie Fairhead was his idol.

At 18 he was accepted onto a nursing course at the University of Anglia but was tempted at the last minute by an adventure with the Merchant Navy and set sail for the high seas.

He said: “I really enjoyed being a divisional officer in the Navy and particularly enjoyed supporting the servicemen and women under my command to achieve their goals.

“During my time in the Navy, I did some volunteering work with a charity who looked after adults with learning disabilities.

“It was during this that I was really taken by the passion of the nursing staff and how they helped people. The memories of being 18 and that dream of being a nurse was reawakened and I suddenly felt a strong desire to follow this path.”

After leaving the Royal Navy in 2004, Sam began work as a healthcare assistant and was successful in getting a place at York University to train to become a learning disability nurse.

Sam adds: “After my first year I transferred to the mental health branch as I was impressed by several mental health nurses that I met on different placements, and I’ve never looked back.”

Sam qualified as a mental health nurse in 2009 and started work in an older person’s unit, before moving into forensic services.

He joined Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust in 2012 and said: “The trust has been a great employer to work for over the last 12 years.

“I’ve been privileged to have worked in a variety of different settings including safeguarding, forensics and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

“I’ve always felt well supported by the organisation and managers and I have been fortunate to benefit from a wide range of training that’s helped me develop in my career.”

Sam’s current role as clinical lead in the Wellbeing in Mind team in North Yorkshire has probably been his most challenging yet.

He explains: “I’ve been involved in setting up a new service that works into local schools supporting children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing. It’s been hard work but seeing the impact it’s having is very exciting and makes me feel proud.

“Despite having worked in so many different areas, there’s always still so much to learn. I’d really recommend mental health nursing to anyone, it’s really diverse and there’s so many people out there needing help and support. You can make a real difference.

“In terms of my dream of being a ‘Charlie Fairhead’… I’m getting there!”

If you want to find out more about a career as a mental health nurse visit