Health Care

How to become a mental health nurse


Mental health nursing is an area of focus within nursing; it takes a special form of caring to be a mental health nurse. As a mental health nurse, people will rely on you to manage their complex emotional and physical needs. This fulfilling career offers new challenges each day.

Mental health nurses work with young children andadults; they treatsubstance abuse, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, andprovide mental health services for families, individuals, groups, and communities.

Want to be a mental health nurse? Well, you will need to study online PMHNP programs. Remember, you must have a solid foundation in behavioral sciences at a basic level, good relationship and communication skills, openness towards diverse lifestyles, and flexibility. As a registered mental health nurse, you will be responsible for developing a diagnosis and plan of care, implement the nursing process, and evaluate it for effectiveness.

Steps to becoming a mental health nurse

  1. Pursue an entry-level nursing program

First, you need to graduate from one of the following:

  • An associate’s degree in nursing – two years
  • Ahospital-based diploma in nursing – three years
  • A college or university bachelor’s degree programin nursing – four years

After completing an entry-level nursing program, youwill be offered a clinical rotation in nursing. This allows you to experience what it’s like to work in the field. While studying, you don’t have to attend in-class studies;you can pursue a mental health nursing course online.To get more insight into the mental health sector, you could volunteer to work in an agency that deals with mentally ill people.

  1. Earning your RN License

Soon after you graduate, take the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. This is your only ticket to securing your job as a licensed nurse in the United States.

  1. Certification in mental health nursing

You can hone your skills furtherby becoming certified through the ANCC.  To get the certification, you must have:

  • An RN license
  • At least two years RN practice – should be full-time.
  • 2,000 or more hours in mental health nursing practice in a span of three years.
  • At least 30 hours of continuing education in mental health nursing.
  1. Advancing your career in mental health nursing

Youcan expand your earning potential by advancing your scope of practice to become an advanced mental health nurse with the title of aPMHNP (Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner), also issued by the ANCC. This will require you to be a holder of a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing.

Career outlook for mental health nurses

According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in every five adults suffers with some kind of mental illness.

Given the current shortage in the number of qualified nurses and increased mental problems, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that there will be a great demand for mental health nurses. Additionally, increased public awareness about mental health will definitely prompt more people to seek assistance from mental health professionals.