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Abertay University and NHS Fife appoint joint Professor of Mental Health Nursing

5 November 2014

In partnership with NHS Fife, Abertay University has appointed its first ever Professor of Mental Health Nursing.

Geoff Dickens joins Abertay from the University of Northampton, where he was Professor of Psychiatric Nursing.

The joint appointment will help to achieve the aims of the Scottish Government’s new strategy for mental health nursing, which are laid out in the document ‘Setting The Direction For Nursing & Midwifery Education in Scotland’.

Professor Dickens has an extensive research portfolio, and his appointment to Abertay complements the university’s existing expertise in mental health research and mental health nurse education.

This has a strong focus on developing nurses’ knowledge and skills in evidence-based practice that is grounded in the core values of social inclusion and the concept of recovery - the ability to assist those with mental health issues to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Professor Dickens arrives at a time when there are a number of key developments taking place within the university’s Mental Health Nursing Division.

The Division is extending its post-registration provision to include a new Masters programme in Mental Health Nursing - delivered mainly online using technology to enhance learning and access to resources - and is expanding its research activity in collaboration with clinical colleagues.

Speaking about this new, joint appointment Andrea Cameron - Head of the School of Social and Health Sciences, in which the Mental Health Nursing Division sits - said:

“I'm delighted to welcome Professor Dickens to the Division of Mental Health Nursing and Counselling. This inaugural joint appointment seals our commitment to working collaboratively with the local health boards and enables us to quite clearly ‘set the direction’ for the future of Mental Health Nursing.”

Executive Director of Nursing at NHS Fife, Professor Scott McLean, said:

“Professor Dickens appointment is great news for NHS Fife. A joint professorial appointment of this nature is a first for our board and I am confident that it will add great value to mental health nursing across Fife.”


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972 172 158 E:

Notes to Editors:

About Professor Dickens

His work as a qualified nurse was first in specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at several locations in England while concurrently studying for an Honours degree in Psychology.

In 1999 he began working in the specialist secure adolescent mental health service at St Andrew’s Healthcare - a large charitable provider of inpatient care to the NHS based in Northampton.

Since 2001, he has held various research positions and has been an active publishing researcher specialising in inpatient mental health nursing and related care. He has published over 60 research papers both in specialist forensic and risk areas, but also in aspects of general mental health nursing practice.

Reflecting an interest in firesetting by people with mental disorders, he is co-editor of two books on this issue: ‘Firesetting and Mental Health: Theory, Practice, Treatment’ and ‘Handbook of the Psychology of Arson’.

Over the past three years he has led what is currently the world’s largest research project into the predictive accuracy of specific risk assessment instruments in inpatient settings. The aim is to find out if it is possible to predict who is at risk for a range of adverse outcomes - including violence, self-harm, self-neglect and victimisation.

This information will be used to devise more targeted treatment plans to prevent risky behaviour, and also to ensure that restrictive interventions are targeted only where they are needed.

Most recently he has developed an interest in ways to assess the positive, protective factors that people with a history of violence hold that can help them to desist from this behaviour. He also has research interests in the attitudes and beliefs that are held both by people who work in inpatient settings and people who use those services.

In addition, he is interested in medicines management by nurses and will be working with the Scottish Mental Health Nursing Prescribers Forum which is to be hosted by Abertay.

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