The decline of mental health nurses is having a detrimental impact on mental healthcare said a report published by the RCN.
The report stated that approximately 3300 mental health nurses have left the profession since 2010, principally due to experienced nurses reaching retirement age and without younger colleagues to replace them.
The report highlighted that: 'There is a broad consensus that cuts to funding have heavily impacted on the range of services being provided and the mental health nursing workforce.'
The report lists a number of recommendations to improve the support and treatment of those with mental health conditions, with a particular focus on using community-based services to intervene before the patient requires acute treatment.
There is also a call for primary care settings to be used to provide psychotherapy, as opposed to prescribing anti-depressants to the patient, particularly in Wales.
In his foreword to the report, Mark Winstanley, the chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: 'Vital community services like early intervention in psychosis are struggling to survive because of funding cuts. Community psychiatric nurses have seen their caseloads spiral to unsustainable levels, while nurses working in mental health hospitals are dangerously overstretched.'
Peter Carter, chief executive of the RCN, said: 'We are running the serious risk of turning back the clock and undoing all the good work that has gone before. The establishment of early intervention services was a great leap forward, and has helped many people live well who may once have been written off. The sterling work of the nurses and doctors who helped turn this around is in danger of being undone through short sighted responses to cost pressures.'
Concern was raised over the number of detentions under the Mental Health Act, which has risen by 13 per cent since 2009.