How To Become a Mental Health Nurse: A Simple Step by Step Guide

Reports show us that we might be needing an influx of Mental Health Nurse or general health professionals who specialize in mental health. The reason? It isn’t as far as we think. The number of mental health disorders seemed to have increased particularly since the COVID-19 days.

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It therefore is only reasonable that we discuss a very vital player to ensure that the mental health of patients are in safe hands which are mental health nurses. So, in this article, we would learn about the responsibilities of these mental health nurses, their benefits and of course, practical steps you can take to become a Mental Health Nurse.

What does a mental health nurse do?

Mental health nurses take diagnosis and suggest treatment plans for patients who have challenges with their mental health. You can imagine patients who are coming to grips with the mental issues they have without mental health nurses to offer a helping hand. Mental health nurses not only motivate them to take their medications but also, they educate them about their mental condition.

These responsibilities mean that mental health nurses do more collaborative work with psychiatrists and doctors which explains why you would see them in doctors, rehabilitation homes, clinics and even psychiatric centres.

Benefits of Becoming a Mental Health Nurse

Could the only reason why we are singing the praises of mental health nurses be because of their roles in a critical aspect of a patient’s health? Truth is, pursuing a career as a mental nurse is richly beneficial not only for the patient but also mental health nurses themselves.

We sometimes underestimate the power of the patient-nurse relationship.

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Every patient has unique attributes which demand that mental health nurses have to continually reinvent themselves to become adept to deal with the mental issues of patients. Mental health nurses because of their roles develop amazing levels of creativity which couldn’t have been possible anywhere else.

Even with the embrace of sound mental health by the general populace, there is still a dearth of mental health nurses in the United States and even world over. What this means for aspiring mental health nurses is that job security is guaranteed to a very large extent compared to other specializations in nursing.

Plus, with the increased demand for health professionals like nurses who can cater for mental health issues, mental health nurses can be at ease and not worry themselves about how secure their jobs are. In fact, this in turn spurs on productivity among mental health nurses.

Steps on How To Become A Mental Health Nurse

To your desire of becoming a mental health nurse, it is of great importance that you know the steps to turning this into a reality.

Earn an Associate Nursing Degree or Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree

You can be talking about a mental health nurse, without first becoming a registered nurse. The journey to becoming a registered nurse starts with you first getting a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing or Associate degree in Nursing and subsequently passing licensure examinations. This serves as a primary certification. Only then are you eligible to receive secondary certification pertaining to mental health.

Add Some Work Experience

Becoming a registered nurse is one thing, having work experience as a registered nurse is another thing altogether. The whole reason behind getting work experience as a registered nurse is for you to no longer just have head knowledge but actionable skills of how to handle patients in a hospital setting. It is upon these skills that you build upon to become a mental health nurse.

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Get an Advanced Nursing Degree

Remember those skills you garnered from working as a registered nurse? This advanced knowledge can come by earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree that exposes you to a specific area in mental health nursing such as psychiatric mental health nursing.

Obtain a PMHNP Certification

As proof that you have a deepened level of expertise, you would need to pass PMHNP certification examinations which are organized by the American Nursing Creditation Center board. PMHNP which is the shortened version of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification is valid for as long as five years, before it is then renewed at a cost lower than getting the certification in the first place.

Mental Health Nurses vs Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners

These two people, that is mental health nurses and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are two different types of nurses. Their difference lies first in the fact that psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners have a wider knowledge base compared to mental health registered nurses.

The implication of this advanced knowledge includes greater responsibility and of course, greater level of independence which in some states allow psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners to work without the direct supervision of a doctor.

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Generally, mental health nurses are primarily in charge of the mental health care to patients which involves administering and monitoring the mental health of patients. It is this responsibility that installs them as a liaison between the patient and the doctor.

Salaries of Mental Health Nurses and PMHNP

By the way, whether it is a mental health nurse or mental health nurse practitioner, the pay is very good, only that mental health nurse practitioners, by reason of their higher level of expertise are entitled to a higher pay almost double that of mental health nurses. PayScale through their website revealed that the median average salary of a mental health nurse as at 2021 is around $67,200 and that of a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner as at 2021 is pegged at $110,200.

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The specialization of mental health nurses allows them to work in different settings from hospitals to rehabilitation centers, but for PMHNP, they are most likely to be found in psychiatric hospitals and mental health units of medical facilities.

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