The integral role of mental health in our holistic well-being is finally becoming the norm. With this recognition, the field of psychiatric and mental health nursing (these terms are used interchangeably) is also gaining significant popularity among health professionals.
In the Philippines, we already have a dedicated group, the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses Association of the Philippines, Inc. Elsewhere in the world, the numbers are rising; in the United Kingdom, there are 38,600 specialists in the field, while there are 26,500 in the United States.
There is a clear demand for psychiatric nursing globally; we outline the details in this Nursing Specialties guide.
Mental health nurses are tasked with the development, planning, and implementation of treatment & care plans to patients suffering from psychiatric or mental illness and disability. This means that nurses of this specialty encounter patients with anxiety, depression, personality disorders, eating disorders, amongst many others.
Where can one find mental health nurses in action? Just like most other nurses, psychiatric nurses are needed in the common work settings – hospitals, outpatient care facilities, community clinics, as well as specialized institutions for counseling and the like. Other places that have demand for mental health nurses are ambulatory health services, residential care facilities, and even school clinics.
Again, as a result of the improving awareness around mental health, the popularity in the specialty has equally grown among nurses. In the United States, the legislation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act helped usher in this growth, resulting in the delivery of quality care to mental health patients.
Mental health as a specialty of course necessitates a special set of skills from the nurses and other healthcare professionals who practice it. All nurses of course should be compassionate, understanding, and encouraging. A higher level of these is expected from psychiatric nurses. Excellent communication skills is a critical skill – giving clear and careful instructions to patients can spell the difference whether an individual will feel empowered or not. This means being in command of one’s tone of voice and body language, beyond the actual message being communicated. Being highly adaptable to constant change is also very important.
It probably goes without saying that mental health nursing is a demanding specialty. Many nurses, fortunately, find that the field is very suitable for their abilities and interests. Psychiatric nursing can be very lucrative; in the United States, a Payscale report states that mental health nurses receive an annual salary that ranges from $53,000 (PHP 3.1M) to $90,000 (PHP5.3M).
If psychiatric nursing is a specialty you’re considering or if you think you have the aptitude for it, the opportunities are continuously increasing! The coming years will surely prove that mental health nursing is a worthwhile specialty to pursue.
Find open nursing jobs here on medpath.