5 Important things you should know about mental health nursing

People often focus more on physical rather than their mental health. Mental health impacts a person’s decisions, thinking, and ability to handle stress. Mental illness can make one miserable, affect the ability to function and cause problems in daily life.

Mental health problems can result from several factors, including childhood trauma, social isolation, long-term physical health conditions, and unemployment. It is not possible to prevent these problems, but people can get help during these difficult times. 

The key to helping patients with mental problems is to establish a connection. In mental health nursing, professionals interact with patients to build a relationship that serves as a tool to understand mental health issues. This practice allows mental health practitioners to work towards providing a satisfactory outcome. 

Mental health nursing is one of the four nursing specializations that assist patients with various mental health conditions such as acute pain, personality disorders, and dementia. Mental health nursing enables psychiatric nurses to treat mental illness, provide optimal care to patients, and positively impact the lives of others. 

To make a difference in society, many people are looking forward to becoming psychiatric health nurses. Before beginning your journey as a nurse practitioner, you might find yourself asking questions like how to become psychiatric nurse practitioner and what are the responsibilities of a mental health nurse?

You can start with earning a degree and training to succeed as a mental health nurse or work as a registered psychiatric nurse with adequate qualifications. But before you decide to become a mental health nurse, you should understand some aspects of mental health nursing.

  1. Communication Skills

Offering compassion to patients can be a start to getting patients out of their shells. Depending on your patient’s condition, as a mental health nurse, you should have the ability to communicate with your patients to help them feel empowered. It is essential to understand the different forms of communication to build a trusting relationship with your patients. 

You can make your patients feel heard by listening to their concerns with patience. It leads to having a therapeutic effect on the patients who start feeling less isolated once they have vented. To become a listener, all you need to do is train your brain to listen rather than ask your patients questions based on what they are saying.  

Interviewing your patients in a certain way can help extract information. The process can be complicated, especially with those who are reluctant to express their feelings. For example, you can ask questions that start with ‘when’ ‘how’ and focus on mood, thoughts, and behavior. 

  1. Working schedule  

Working at unpredictable schedules can be exhausting for a practicing nurse. However, for a physiatric nurse, it is a different story. Depending on the type of facilities they work in, the working schedule varies for mental health nurses. With an option to work in a community based-clinic, psychiatric nurse practitioners can stick to a traditional 8-5 job.

As a mental health nurse working in a psychiatric hospital, there is a possibility of working overnight shifts and on bank holidays that will add more hours to your work time for a few days.  

For a flexible work schedule, you can be part of a child and adolescent mental health service or work in a non-healthcare setting such as a prison. If you like working round the clock or on a flexible schedule, you can either work in a hospital or be a part of a mental health clinic.  

  1. Teamwork

Looking after mentally ill patients is a delicate job that requires strict-follow ups. A mental health nurse works with primary physicians and psychiatrists to improve patients’ health and provide quality care. Working as a team can enable healthcare professionals to evaluate patients thoroughly. 

Psychiatric nurses establish communication with the patient’s physician and psychiatrist to offer a personalized level of care. It keeps nurses updated with the treatment protocol and progress of patients’ health accurately. Due to their interaction with patients on a daily basis, psychiatric nurses can get every piece of information that can help change treatment protocols if needed. 

It can get complicated for an individual nurse to look after every patient’s needs. To avoid burnout, doctors and therapists often work with mental health nurses when patients want to get an update on their treatment or when they want to talk about their feelings. 

  1. Rewarding Outcomes 

Being a mental health nurse can be challenging. From high-stress situations to extended hours, there is a lot on your plate. However, it can be rewarding when you are an active participant in making decisions about your patient’s care. 

Individuals with schizophrenia, drug addiction, and personality disorders are more vulnerable. As a mental health nurse, establishing trust, promoting social skills, and ensuring patients receive adequate nutrition leads to improvement in overall health.      

People with mental health issues are always on the lookout for support to get them through tough times. As a mental health nurse, you can play your part by caring and showing compassion to help patients in their journey, from illness to recovery. 

  1. Variety of Opportunities 

Mental health nursing offers a variety of opportunities. With a growing number of mental illnesses, especially after the pandemic, the demand for psychiatric nurses has also significantly increased. 

Psychiatric nurses, especially those with an advanced degree, are qualified to diagnose conditions, develop treatment plans and offer care. You can work with a particular group of patients like children or adults. You can progress in the field by becoming a nurse specialist where you could invest your time researching and improving your area of practice.   

It is a rare profession where you can make a difference in the lives of others. You could work in a nursing home, drug rehabilitation center, or a hospital. As you gain more experience and education, you can progress further into your field and have the opportunity to work with a variety of patients. 

Final Thoughts

Mental illness can affect any individual regardless of age or circumstances. Over the years, mental health issues have significantly increased due to several factors, from long-term health conditions to unemployment. As a result, the demand for quality care has also increased. 

Mental health nurses help promote a patient’s “be strong be healthy” enabling them to have more control over their condition. They can improve mental health by establishing trusting relationships, managing symptoms, and encouraging healthy behaviors. The outcomes are rewarding when patients make a recovery. While education is essential, communications skills, the ability to express care, and compassion enable you to become a better practitioner.  


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Written by Virily Editor

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