Skip to content

Toggle service links

Coronavirus: Course registration is open, but please be aware it may take us longer to respond than usual. Find out about our coronavirus response and current contact hours.

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Ann Mitchell

Dr Ann Mitchell

Dr Helena Ann Mitchell

Profile summary

Professional biography

I have contributed extensively to mental health nursing both as a practitioner and a nurse educationist. Initially trained as a registered nurse, I progressed to become a specialist in community mental health nursing.  A key achievement in that role was to develop a service for individuals with mental health problems within a rural General Practitioner surgery. An interest in nurse education led me to take up a position as an educationalist where I delivered a community mental health study programme for mental health nurses within a School of Nursing. The role expanded to include the management of undergraduate courses and post graduate modules as a senior lecturer at University College Northampton. During this time I obtained a BSc (Hons) and MA in Women’s studies in addition to Diplomas in Management Studies. I also demonstrated clinical mental health practice as well as managerial skills when I accepted a secondment in managing a community mental health team for a local Trust and implementing clinical governance principles.

Since joining  the Open University in 2005, I have contributed to modules in mental health nursing, health policy, teaching and assessment. This led to the acceptance of a challenging leadership role of co-qualification director for the BSc Hons nursing pre-registration degree for adult and mental health nursing. This national programme serves England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales by educating health care support workers to become registered graduate nurses. I also have a growing international repurtation in the field of mental health nursing capacity building. I was invited to facilitate and teach child and adolescent mental health interventions and women and mental health at international universities including Turku Polytechnic, Finland and Ain Shams University, Cairo. More recently in 2018 I was asked to present a paper on mental health issues affecting individuals in Guyana at the 30th Anniversary celebration of the 'Association of Guyanese Nurses and Allied Professionals in the UK' at the Guyana High Commission, London. I am now co-editor for the Action Research Journal that covers a range of health related topics with the focus on action research methodology and change management.     

My keen interest in research stemmed from the completion of undergraduate and post graduate degrees. I later undertook my PhD with Guyanese women who had Type 2 Diabetes living in England because I wanted to study a hard to reach group which in this context was Guyanese. The PhD was awarded by the University of Surrey in 2015.  


Received a merit award for lead role in managing annual monitoring regional visit for the mental health branch of the nursing programme in 2008 and more recently in 2017 a merit award in recognition of the extra work put in on behalf of the nursing discipline and going the extra mile award. 

Supervised a Master's student's dissertation who received a Mary Seacole award for her research study in 2004. 

Membership Committess 

  • 2000 - 2016   Trustee and treasurer for International  Institute for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 
  • 1986 - present Member of the Royal college of Nursing 
  • 2018 - present Member of the Association of Guyanese Nurses and Allied Professionals (AGNAP)


Walsh, M., Mitchell, A., Millar, E., Rowe, J., Greenhalgh, L., Langridge, E., and Chaloner, R. (2011) Health and Social care Level 2 Diploma Handbook, Collins Education.

Walsh, M., Mitchell, A., Millar E., Rowe, J., Greenhalgh, L., Langridge, E., and Chaloner, R. (2011) Health and Social care Level 3 Diploma Handbook, Collins Education

Walsh, M., Millar ,E., Rowe, J., and Mitchell, A (2012) Health and Social Care Level 2 Dementia Care Award and Certificate. Collins Education.

Walsh, M., Millar ,E., Rowe, J., and Mitchell, A (2012) Health and Social Care Level 3 Dementia Care Award and Certificate. Collins Education.

Rowe, J., and Mitchell A. (2013) Key Concepts in Health. Collins Education.


Mitchell A (2001): ‘Development of new courses for primary care nurses’, Journal of Primary Care Mental Health, 5 (2), pp.24–27

Mitchell A (2002) ‘Stigma: discrimination, ethnicity and gender issues’ in E. Armstrong (ed.) The Guide to Mental Health for Nurses in Primary Care, Radcliffe Medical Press, pp.105–14

Rowe, J., and Mitchell A. (2013) Key Concepts in Health. Collins Education

Mitchell , A., Rowe, R., and Counihan S. (2013) On line Forums: implications for mental

Health Nurses. The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice. Vol 8. (3) pp.


Mitchell, H. A, Allan H, Koch T (2017)  Guyanese expatriate women ask: “Is it a

touch of sugar?”, Action Research pp. 1-14



Research interests

Having successfully contributed to mental health nursing both as a practitioner and a nurse educationalist, I am now in a position to use my significant experience by contributing to theory and practice through research. I am keen to build on my master's study on black women that explored the reasons why they consumed alcohol. This research was guided by feminist principles; emphasising being heard and giving a voice to participants. This was further developed in my PhD with Guyanese women who had Type 2 Diabetes living in England, where I focused on developing practices for engaging hard to reach groups. This research has fostered new understandings of diabetes. This empowered the group of women via participatory action research and practice to recognise mental health and physical issues  associated with a chronic illness and have a say about the health services received thus bringing about a change in their lives.

Current research is the development of a mental health research project in collaboration with internal and external colleagues and the Guyanese community.

Teaching interests

Wide ranging teaching interests across a number of disciplines primarily, online, classroom and distance learning writing. 

Mental health conditions, bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, OCD, anxiety related disorders, workplace stress,

Substance misuse, support of carers

Child and adolescent mental health problems including depression, family work

Older people with mental health problems, depression, dementia related conditions

Mental health policy, mental health promotion

Self harming including eating disorders and suicide

Crisis theory and interventions

Assertive outreach 

Mental health treatments and therapies

Community mental health theory and practice

Sociology of health and illness

Management and strategic management theories


Coaching, teaching, assessing and learning in clinical practice 

Educational theories including learning and teaching 

 Action  Research 

External collaborations

Guyanese government and University Of Guyana 

Hilary Bradbury - Action Research Journal Editor in USA. Act as co editor for the Journal and action research groups. 

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Ageing and Biographical Studies (CABS)CentreFaculty of Health and Social Care
Department of Nursing Research GroupResearch GroupFaculty of Health and Social Care
OU Public Health and Health Promotion Research GroupResearch GroupFaculty of Health and Social Care


Externally funded projects

Developing a community-based mental health improvement programme in Guyana through inter-disciplinary participatory action research
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Feb 201931 Aug 2020BRITAC British Academy

In August 2018 a week long scoping exercise assessed the mental health training needs of multi-disciplinary health practitioners in Guyana. From this, we developed an innovative research strategy and commitment to develop a community-based mental health improvement programme capable of being adopted by Guyana and other Low- and Middle-Income Countries with similar socio-economic conditions. Our approach focuses on promoting community mental health resilience through participatory digital technologies that build on The Open University’s global leadership role in distance learning. The research and development phases will address embedded cultural attitudes and norms that frequently prevent healthcare practitioners implementing successful and sustainable interventions in such environments, while promoting existing positive practices. Our research will: 1. Establish a baseline of social, environmental and mental health status within three case study communities; 2. Co-design with community members, practitioners and agencies a capacity building programme for community-based mental health improvement in readiness for a period of engagement within the three case study communities focusing on improving mental health resilience through our ‘community owned solutions’ approach. 3. Support, through a process of action research, the practitioners as they apply and evaluate the resilience/‘community owned solutions’ approach within the case study communities, and monitor intervention impact with respect to baseline state. 4. Apply lessons learnt to strengthen the practitioner capacity building programme for major out scaling within Guyana (through the University of Guyana's BSc in Mental Health Nursing) and in other LMICs. By aiming to establish a BSc honours degree in Mental Health Nursing as an outcome the project, we have a clear exit strategy for our research which will enthuse and motivate engagement across Government, Public Health and Education sectors. It will build on and develop existing practices to create a pathway towards the aspiration that will excite both innovation and education amongst practitioners and policy formers.


Guyanese Women's Experiences of Invisibility in Health Care in England (2020)
Mitchell, Helena Ann
Frontiers in Sociology, 5, Article 23

[Editorial] Health and healthcare as the context for participatory action research (2019-12-01)
Kjellström, Sofia and Mitchell, Ann
Action Research, 17(4) (pp. 419-428)

Guyanese expatriate women ask: ‘Is it a touch of sugar?’ (2019)
Mitchell, Helena Ann; Allan, Helen and Koch, Tina
Action Research ((Early Access))

Social perspectives on depression (2009)
Mitchell, Ann; Denny, Elaine and Earle, Sarah
In: Denny, Elaine and Earle, Sarah eds. The Sociology of Long Term Conditions and Nursing Practice. Sociology and nursing practice series (pp. 209-227)
ISBN : 978-0-230-51646-5 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : UK

Guyanese women in the UK: their experiences of diabetes, health knowledge and beliefs, and implications for self care (2009-06)
Mitchell, Ann
In : 34th Caribbean Studies Association Annual Conference (1-5 Jun 2009, Kingston, Jamaica)