An exploration of the factors influencing career choice in mental health

Karen McKenzie, Aja Louise Murray, Matthew Cooper, Rachel Martin, Kara Murray, Clare Baguley, Andra Chiscop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and objectives: To identify the factors that are associated with considering a career in mental health.

Background: The mental health specialty is facing a recruitment crisis in the United Kingdom but there is limited evidence about which factors encourage and discourage people to consider a career in mental health.

Design: Quantitative, observational, online survey using a multiple ordinal logistic regression model to identify if there were any significant predictors of the extent to which participants would consider a career in mental health. The design and write up of the study were guided by the STROBE checklist.

Method: We gathered the views of 231 participants (female = 188, 81.7%) aged between 16 and 65 (mean = 22.7, SD = 8.9), using an online survey, the majority of whom were studying on, or graduates of, psychology/social studies degrees. Information was gathered about the extent to which a range of factors influenced consideration of a career in mental health.

Results: The majority (71.2%) of participants reported that they would definitely or probably consider undertaking a career in mental health, and over half (51.4%) would consider a career as a mental health nurse. The ability to help others and receiving appropriate training required for the role were important career choice factors. Being female, having a mental health condition, and greater knowledge of mental health, were associated with a significantly greater likelihood of considering a career in mental health, while having had experience of working with people with mental health difficulties was significantly negatively associated.

Conclusions: Students and graduates of psychology and social studies degrees appear to be a large, untapped recruitment pool for mental health services.

Relevance to clinical practice: The results can inform more targeted recruitment strategies and development of suitable career pathways for those interested in a career in mental health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Early online date24 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jul 2020


  • recruitment
  • mental health
  • nursing
  • staff
  • barriers
  • facilitators


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