A Comprehensive Guide to Working as a Mental Health Nurse

Whether you are currently working as a professional nurse, or else have an entirely different career role entirely and want to try a new challenge, then there can be no more rewarding yet challenging career than as a mental health nurse.

With that being said, here for your information and of course reading pleasure, is a comprehensive guide to working as a mental health nurse and exactly what the role involves.

What Does a Mental Health Nurse Do?

There are several different specialties within the umbrella field of nursing and working in mental health is just one of many. 

Typical roles and responsibilities of a mental health nurse include, but are in no way limited to, the following:

  • The planning and assessment of various requirements related to nursing care
  • Visiting patients with mental health issues and problems in their homes
  • Working to combat and actively fight against various stigmas associated with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues
  • Reviewing, creating, and agreeing with both patients and their close family members as to the agreed customized treatment plans and the extensive monitoring of progress in the individual treatment plans
  • Liaising with a variety of other medical professionals, including social workers, doctors, and other nurses
  • Updating, writing, and organizing patient files and records
  • The organization of workloads for other nurses and your own
  • The building of strong professional relationships with patients, including listening to, talking to, and reassuring them

How to Become a Mental Health Nurse

Of all the different departments within the field of nursing, mental health is one of the most underfunded sections across the length and breadth of this country and indeed internationally and, therefore, there is always a shortage of mental health nurses.

If you are indeed interested in the rewarding yet equally challenging pursuit of a career as a mental health nurse, then the best course of action is to look into one of the renowned and prestigious effective online accelerated bsn programs for non nurses

Skills Required to Be a Mental Health Nurse

As with any other field of nursing, there are a certain set of skills and personality attributes which, whilst not always mandatory, will certainly help you in your pursuit of a career as a mental health nurse.

Such skills include the following:

  • Incredibly good listening and interpersonal skills
  • Critical thinking, decision making, and problem-solving skills
  • A caring and empathic personality type
  • A thorough understanding of mental health services and provisions
  • The ability to make decisions under pressure and quickly 

Other Career Pathways in the Field of Mental Health

Aside from mental health nursing, there are several other career pathways which involve working with and more specifically, helping, people who are living with mental health issues, as discussed in more detail below.

  1. Occupational Therapy

Essentially, occupational therapy is a field of healthcare that centers around working with people who are experiencing either temporary or indeed permeant, issues with daily activities due to a variety of different reasons, including trauma, natural aging, disability or illness.

Typical roles and responsibilities of an occupational therapist include:

  • Assessing work and home environments of individual clients
  • The development of physical rehabilitation and treatment programs to help a client regain one or more forgotten skill
  • Educating family members and caregivers about the treatment plan of the patient
  • Maintaining and regularly updating your knowledge of occupational therapy
  • The evaluation and monitoring of a patient’s condition in terms of both their emotional wellbeing and physical health
  • Ensuring constant compliance with state, local, and federal requirements
  • Working together with clients to prepare them to go back to work
  1. Social Work

Another field of professional healthcare which often deals directly with people who are living with one or more mental health issues is that of a social worker.

Social workers can make a huge and lasting difference to both individual people’s lives as well as families and community groups, and can make a huge change to the quality of life.

Typical roles and duties of a professional social worker include the following:

  • Interviewing both individuals and family members
  • Spending quality time getting to know the service user
  • Liaising with other professionals, such as fellow social workers, local government, and other officials
  • Keeping constantly up to date with changing procedures and policies
  • Planning daily activities for the service user
  • Strengthening local education and knowledge
  • Building strong community ties
  • The provision of detailed information to clients
  • Understanding the individual needs of the service user
  1. Prison Nurse

Another form of registered nursing which also involves working within the field of mental health is that of a prison nurse.

Prison nurses are an integral part of the healthcare system and what is more, a crucial part of prison life for the inmates who are often experiencing one or more issues with their mental health. 

  • The promotion of a therapeutic and comfortable medical environment for the prisoners
  • The recording and maintaining of all inmate medical data and information
  • The obtaining of required specimens from individual inmates as and when required
  • Recording and checking vital signs regularly
  • The coordination and admission of therapeutic agents, treatments, and medication to inmates
  • Assisting prison doctors and physicians with medical treatments
  • Performing other duties as required by the prison doctor
  1. Peer Support Work

Finally, peer support workers are the other main section of healthcare professionals who tend to work more closely with people who are living with one or more issues regarding their mental health.

Typical roles and duties of a peer support worker, especially one who works with people with depression and anxiety regularly, include:

  • Developing a deep and mutually respective rapport and bond with each service user they work with 
  • The provision of practical and regular support, guidance, and assistance to encourage them to be as positive and indeed independent as possible
  • To work alongside other medical professionals within the healthcare system, combining skillsets to provide the best treatment possible
  • The provision of individualized mental health care and treatment plans for service users