CLASS OF 2023: Chris champions change for mental health
A nurse has graduated from the University of Wolverhampton today and is already making a significant impact to provide the best mental health care in prisons across the UK.
Christopher Gettins, from Blackburn, celebrates his graduation achieving first-class honours in Mental Health Nursing.
Chris works as a registered mental health nurse at NHS Inclusion in the Health in Justice Services team, providing mental health services in over 24 prison establishments across the UK.
Alongside his role, Chris continues to work closely with the University of Wolverhampton and has recently become a visiting lecturer at Queens University Belfast, to share his experience and highlight the benefits of nursing in prisons.
Having lived experience of mental illness and continuing to fight the battle of depression, the 25-year-old states it’s important to him to be working towards providing the best possible care for patients and transforming lives for the better.
Chris said: “It feels absolutely amazing to be graduating - it still hasn’t sunk in, and I qualified back in September.
“I faced some difficult hurdles along the way, including stressors with my own mental health; so, I’m ecstatic to have made it.
“With Wolverhampton being within the heart of the Midlands and being such a supportive environment, it was a no-brainer to join a university that has its students at its core.”
Since the start of his student journey, it was evident Chris was a true advocate for the wellbeing of others and was quickly nominated to be course rep for his cohort and progressed to become School Representative for Nursing, representing all nursing students across City and Telford campus.
Throughout his university experience, Chris has accomplished many achievements including being shortlisted in two categories at the prestigious Student Nursing Times Awards 2022. He was named a finalist for ‘Most Inspirational Student of the Year’ and ‘Student Mental Health Nurse of the Year’ – a staple in his career that Chris holds close to his heart.
Chris said: “Being announced as a finalist in the Student Nursing Times Awards was such an incredible feeling. If I could go back and re-live one moment, it would have to be the build-up to the awards; having my photo with my peers and our iconic ‘Wolf in Wolves’ - the sculpture, dedicated to suicide prevention and mental health awareness. The recognition meant so much to me on a personal level – and is one of the reasons why I am who I am today.”
During his studies, the ambitious nurse worked with the University’s Academic Lead, Clare Dickens MBE, to develop and shape a suicide prevention project and showcased his involvement at a city-wide conference at the University.
Chris said: “The University has offered me endless opportunities which have made me into the professional I am today. From being involved in shaping life-changing projects and being recognised at a national level for my commitment and dedication to mental health nursing – my student journey has been remarkable.
“I’m incredibly proud to have been a student at the University of Wolverhampton and even more proud, to have been part of the change for mental health.”
The inspiring graduate continues to carry the ambition to create and enforce positive change, at a local level within mental health services, and at a national level within healthcare services.
Chris is currently working closely with the University to improve the support for student nurses, at an academic and placement level in collaboration with NHS England.
Chris’ advice for future students
- Keep your goal in mind – at times it may feel out of reach, or current studies/placements may seem overwhelming, remember why you’re doing this.
- Whilst it may sound somewhat cliché, you make of your degree what you put it. Take absolutely every opportunity you can and run with it.
- Remember, you’ve got this! Good luck.
After graduation, graduates become members of the Alumni Association and are encouraged to keep in touch, to take advantage of a wide range of benefits and support on offer, including a discount for postgraduate study.
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