Mental Health Nursing - Ian Potter Museum of Art

Mental Health Nursing

Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences

The Potter’s collaboration with the Department of Nursing’s Mental Health Masters students engages registered nurses in challenging assumptions about observation and interpretation of what they observe in mental health settings. Students participate in two immersive museum experiences each semester. The first provides students with a safe space for explicating observation, interpretation and cultural experience through visual observation and interpretation skills. The second challenges students to deeply explore meaning-making, creativity and core values in mental health nursing.


‘The students were initially sceptical of why we were going to an art gallery; however, one session had a significant impact with an increased awareness of how we as nurses make judgements based on what we see, yet not all nurses interpret situations in the same way. More importantly, when the nurses had all the information, rather than just the observations, they had a clearer picture of what was happening.’
– Dr Cathy Daniel, Lecturer, Mental Health Nursing; Coordinator Post Graduate Mental Health Nursing


‘Two lessons that I have learnt from this experience are how having different cultural backgrounds changes the experience of the same setting and the effect that context has on assessments. Moving forward, I need to reflect on my own culture and how it impacts my clinical practice. Also I need to reflect on the contextual influences of my assessments and how the language that is attached to a person can influence how they are treated. It highlights the need to be strengths based and use positive language to promote recovery. Considering the culture of the hospital setting in which I work, I can think how to adapt it to suit a multicultural society. The consequences of these changes could possibly lead to improved patient outcomes.’
– Student reflection, semester one