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Mental Health Nurse- Work Activities And Environment

mental health nurse
Mental health nurses help people who are suffering from various conditions of mental health. The work involves assisting the patients to recover from illness or to deal with the issues for leading a positive life. They can also help you in coping up with your child's mental llness. Nurses specialize in working with older people or children, or in a particular area like eating disorders. The mental health nurses are often seen working in the multidisciplinary teams or liaising with psychologists, psychiatrists, GPs, social workers, other health professionals and occupational therapists. Registered nurses work with the patients in variety of settings like community healthcare centers, specialist units or hospital outpatients departments, their own homes, or the secure residential units.

Typical Work Activities

The chores that are carried out by mental health nurses may vary depending on settings and the specialist group they work with. Typically, their role consists of:
  • Caring for the patients who suffer from enduring mental illness or those who are experiencing mental acute distress.
  • Talking to patients and assessing about their problems. Discussing ways to deliver and plan for their care.
  • Ensuring correct administration of the medication including injection, monitoring results of their treatment and other related tasks.
  • Building relationships with the patients, encouraging trust and interpreting their concerns and needs.
  • helpling patients understand their potential and encouraging them for resuming work after mental health problems.
  • Applying the ‘de-escalation’ techniques for helping patients manage their behavior and emotions.
  • Responding to the distressed patients in non-threatening manner and ways and attempting to understand their source of distress.
  • Participating and preparing one-to-one and/or group therapy sessions, both with health professionals and individually.
  • Producing risk assessments and care plans for individual patients.
  • Maintaining and preparing patient records.
  • Organizing social events that are aimed at developing the social skills of patients.
  • Encouraging patients to participate in drama, occupational therapy and art where appropriate.
  • Providing individual therapy (evidence-based), like cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety and depression.
  • Promoting the ‘recovery’ based approach.
  • Working with the caretakers and families of the patients, helping them to learn about the mental health problems of the patients and educate them regarding all the concerned areas.
  • Ensuring that legal requirements appropriate for a particular group or setting of patients are actually observed.
In the community, role of a nurse may also involve:
  • Identifying when and whether the patients are at a risk of harming others or themselves.
  • Assessing the psychological and behavioral needs of patients.
  • Visiting the patients in their homes to monitor progress.
  • Liaising with the patients, fellow professionals in community treatment team and relatives and attending the meetings regularly to monitor and review the care plans for patients.
  • Coordinating care of patients.

Work Environment

The mental health nurses perform their duties in various settings like:
  • Psychiatric and general hospitals
  • Home healthcare services
  • Treatment programs for substance abuse
  • Agencies for community mental health
  • Private practice
The schedules of nurses may vary. Those in inpatient facilities perform duties by rotating shifts that usually cover weekend hours, evening and night along with the holidays. The nurses who are in the private practice and community agencies work for regular business hours. However, they may offer a few extended hours for convenience of the working patients.
Mental health nurses mostly spend the workdays interacting with administrators, colleagues, families and patients. They stay on their feet for work so they must be comfortable bending, stooping and lifting.