How to Become a Mental Health Nurse

Mental health nurses, otherwise known as psychiatric nurses, are playing a pivotal role in today’s fight against issues such as addiction, anxiety, and depression. These all-important professionals are working to ensure that everybody receives the care they need to live happily with a sound state of mind.

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Mental Health Nurse

If you’ve like to devote your life to fighting mental health disorders, then why not take up nursing in this particular field? To see what you would need to do to follow such a career path, be sure to read on.

First of all, make sure that you’re up to the task

Mental health nursing can, at times, be a highly demanding and draining position. You, then, need to ensure that you’re up to the task of being this type of nurse before you go ahead and devote your time and effort to the profession. If you’re not 100% committed to this role, somewhere down the line, your enthusiasm for it will waver and you won’t be able to provide the top quality care and assistance that your patients are going to so desperately need from you.

The first thing that you need to take into account in this instance is the fact that you will come face-to-face with all manner of patients with all manner of problems. Due to the sensitivity of some of these patients’ cases, you may, from time to time, find yourself in particularly volatile and dangerous situations. If you’re to succeed with such an array of different people, then, it’s essential that you are a people’s person with strong communication skills, that you are incredibly patient, and that you are not easily offended. As well as this, as most of your patients will, more than likely, not feel comfortable talking about their problems, you have to be well versed when it comes to reading body language. Also, you have to be willing to give people second and even third chances — you will not be able to fix any mental health problem in one fell swoop, and it would be naive to think otherwise.

As a mental health nurse, you will be faced with these kinds of duties day in, day out:

Supporting individual patients and assessing their unique plights
Encouraging entents to take part in all manner of therapies, from medication trials to role-play activities
Providing physical care to particularly vulnerable patients
Giving medication to patients

If you think that you’re up to the task of facing these duties each day with a renewed enthusiasm, then you might very well be the perfect fit for the mental health nursing profession.

Get the necessary degrees

Being the perfect fit doesn’t mean you are automatically going to be able to step into the profession, though. In order to do that, first, you’re going to have to get the necessary degrees.

As mental health nurses must be registered nurses (RNs) to begin with, it is essential that you have an Associate’s Degree in Nursing in the very first instance. However, in order to make the step up to mental health nursing, you’re going to need to take a Nursing RN to BSN online program. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree will provide you with an insight into what is demanded from nurses who work in the psychiatric sector, specifically with regards to the tasks of critical thinking and thinking on your feet. As well as this, some hospitals, especially those deemed to be of Magnet status, will also ask that you complete a 2-year associate’s degree. This kind of hospital-based training will help potential employees decide whether or not you are truly ready to be a mental health nurse.

Become certified

Even once you’ve earned all of your degrees and embarked on hospital-based training, you may still be required to do more before you can call yourself a fully-fledged mental health nurse. Depending on what state you live in, you may also have to become certified — certification for mental health nurses is required in some places, and only recommended in others. In order to find out whether or not you need to be certified before you can embark on your career, check your local health governing agency’s website. That will tell you everything you need to know in this instance.

Take additional training

Although not explicitly necessary in any state, taking additional training will no doubt prove beneficial to you with regards to both your career prospects and your knowledge of the psychiatric sector.

By taking training in psychological therapies, for instance, you will become more adept when it comes to dealing with challenging behavior — you will be able to spot the telltale signs that patients display early on in their treatment that signify they aren’t going to behave accordingly throughout the whole duration of it. By taking additional training, you will also become well versed when it comes to the proper administration of psychiatric medicine. This kind of expert industry knowledge is, of course, vital. One wrong move with regards to the medicine that you prescribe or administer could put your patients in real danger and land you in hot water with the health authorities.

There are all sorts of additional training for you to take. You could take elective classes at your place of work, you could continue your education at university or college, or you could embark on clinical study. Whatever you decide to do, just remember that, although not necessary, additional training could assist you immensely as you seek to take your career as far as it can go. It will help you to keep your nursing skills sharp, and it will stand you in better stead when new job openings become available.

If you feel that it is your calling to become a mental health/psychiatric nurse, then go ahead do it. It may require you to embark on a long, tough road before you can call yourself a professional in this particular health sector, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. All the best things in life don’t come easy, remember!

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