Nurses Who Care for Their Patient’s Mental Health

The specialty known as mental health nursing involves the care of patients who have mental illnesses like psychosis, schizophrenia, dementia, depression, or bipolar disorder. Nurses who work in this medical area create care plans for their patients who are dealing with chronic or acute mental health disorders. They utilize treatment plans that take a "whole person" approach to healing, which emphasizes treating patients’ emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. Mental health nurses work with individuals, groups, and families, in medical or community environments. To positively engage patients, these nurses strive to develop a therapeutic relationship that is mutual and collaborative so that they are able to successfully carry out treatment.

Nurses who work in the field of mental health assist physicians with patient interventions. These interventions are carried out to assess a patient’s dysfunction or illness, improve their coping and behavioral skills, and prevent further illness. During this process, nurses help with the management of a therapeutic environment by assisting patients with self care, administering medication, and monitoring treatments. On a daily basis, mental health nurses perform routine duties like assessing patients’ mental health needs, developing and implementing treatment plans, and evaluating patient care.

It is important that mental health nurses are empathetic, and possess a desire to help people and develop professional relationships with them. Since they are often dealing directly with patients who may or may not be emotionally stable, they need to have strong communication skills and know how to be patient, tactful, and understanding. These types of nurses are employed in a variety of inpatient and outpatient work environments, including hospitals, psychiatric wards, mental health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, primary care offices, private practices, behavioral care companies, and community-based programs. Given the nature of their work environments and the sensitive situations that they may encounter, these nurses must possess the ability to remain calm, collaborate and work as a team, and be able to control their own personal emotions in uncertain situations.

Registered nurses who want to work in the mental health field must complete additional education and training in psychological therapies, therapeutic relationships, and administration of psychiatric medicine. They also must understand and learn how to handle challenging behavior, as well as diffierent approaches to treatment such as physical therapies, psychiatric medication, mental health assessments, and psychosocial interventions. Registered nurses can earn certifications in psychiatric and mental health nursing, and those who want to become advanced practice nurses can earn a master’s in psychiatric-mental health nursing. They can also sub-specialize in psychiatric areas like Substance Abuse, Gero-psychiatric Nursing, Forensics, and Child-Adolescent Mental Health.

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