Celebrating nursing around the world

Pulse would like to thank you for your ongoing, compassionate care this International Nurses Day. Your hard work and dedication makes a difference to so many people’s lives.

International Nurses Day takes place annually on 12 May, Florence Nightingale's Birthday, and celebrates the contributions that nurses across the globe make each day.

The theme for this year is 'A voice to lead – Health is a human right'.

Here are just a few examples of the amazing work that nurses around the world are doing to improve access to healthcare, achieve universal health coverage and ensure the right to health.

The ‘flying’ mental health nurse' – Australia


The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) delivers emergency healthcare services to South Australia 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. South Australia is the driest state of Australia and is home to approximately 5,000 people living in small isolated communities.

The ‘flying’ mental health nurse is an integrated role within the RFDS. It is a clinical role providing specialist mental health care for people with severe and complex mental illness who live in remote and isolated areas.

Some key activities of the flying mental health nurses include: supporting GPs to identify and intervene with people requiring mental health services, providing mental health interventions and completing regular mental health follow-up and reviews.

The unique service provides accessible, quality and specialist mental health services that reduce the need for lengthy road travel and decrease unnecessary ‘fly out’ for mental health assessments.

Expanding access to healthcare to provide complementary HIV testing services – South Africa


Right to Care is at the forefront of supporting and delivering prevention, care and treatment services for HIV. Located in Region A, Johannesburg, the service is staffed by two registered nurses and eight HIV counsellors.

Region A has a number of informal settlements and is home to more than 250,000 people. Poverty and unemployment are major issues within this region and the population has low levels of education. As a result of these circumstances, there is a high burden of disease, particularly HIV and the traditional models of care have struggled to meet the needs of the community.

Right to Care works in partnership with the government and communities to focus on innovation and the use of technology to enhance services, address skills shortages, and deliver quality healthcare outcomes.

Thanks to their work, the number of people receiving care has more than doubled and for the first time, community members are able to access community-based services in a timely and affordable manner.

Engaging with the education sector for the promotion of mental health and the prevention of suicidal behaviour – Portugal


A programme operated by nurses has been developed in Portugal to address mental health problems in schools.

Mental illness among teenagers is increasing. Despite this, due to poor mental health literacy, lack of access and stigma (particularly surrounding suicidal behaviour), only about 20% of those in need seek the help of a mental health professional. In addition, suicide is the third cause of death among teenagers and self-inflicted injuries are increasing in this age group.

By intervening with teachers, parents, and students, the aim of the service is to promote well‐being, self‐esteem and the development of coping strategies, as well as to combat stigma. The nurses do this through holding educational sessions for school staff and parents and socio-therapeutic sessions for the students.

The programme has increased its intervention year after year, presently extending to approximately 20,000 students, 3,000 teachers, and 2,000 parents. As a result, there have been significant improvements in the well‐being, coping, and self-esteem of students, as well as a reduction in depressive symptoms leading to suicidal behaviour.

If you would like to know more about this year’s theme, visit the International Council of Nurses website here.

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    After many years in nursing in a variety of settings both here and overseas I feel mental health starts with good interactions ,and win win situations for both patients and nurses even in the most difficult of circumstances ,which a lot of nurses can identify with. It is not always the big things people remember when interacting with nurses, it's the small gestures that count too.We as nurses ,need to reflect on those gestures that make us feel we have done a good job even in difficult times and keep the faith in our daily practise.