Mental Health Nurse Training


For mentally challenged patients and their families alike, much support is needed from the community and the medical practitioners. Mental health nursing is a demanding career that enables nurse to take care to this special group of patients. It is even challenging given that most mentally ill patients cannot make sound judgments on their own, hence the need of assistance in all aspects of their lives. Nurses must therefore be trained on handling the different aspects of their patients from giving medication to controlling their psychological disorders.

On the other hand, mental health nurses have a huge role of counseling the families affected by having such a patient. It is normal for families to get overly tormented and distressed over the issue and mental health nurses come in handy for psychological support. This makes it mandatory for mental health nurse to receive ample training in guiding and counseling.

Prerequisites to Become a Psychiatric Nurse

Mental health nurse/ psychiatric nurses are advanced practice RNs and hence they must have earned a masters degree. In simple terms, to be admitted for a mental health nursing specialty, one must have had at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. On the other hand satisfactory GRE scores may be mandatory for admission in most nursing schools.

Nursing graduate schools also tend to ask for an active, encumbered registered nurse license. However this does not lock out other non-nursing students from taking mental health nursing as a master’s choice. For such students, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is required for admission into nursing school. This kind of entry into nursing is referred to as direct MSN programs.

Mental Health Nurse Training- The Curriculum

As mentioned earlier Psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners are subject to master’s level education and training. Such are the fields expected to be covered in the masters of Science in nursing-mental health nursing class:

  • Core Nursing Courses for MSN Students

These courses apply to all MSN students of all nursing specialties. They include:

Introduction to advanced practice nursing

Population based nursing

Research methods in nursing

Nursing theories

Ethics in the health care profession

Psychiatric/Mental Health Specialty Courses

In addition to taking the common MSN courses, Masters of psychiatric nursing students must take specialty courses that deeply cover all areas of mental health. These courses take the most part of the study program and include the following areas:

  • General Psychiatry

Credits covered here include mastery of psychiatric disorders across all life-spans and population subsets. Students are trained on how to asses and diagnose the different mental disorders like dementia, bipolar syndrome, psychotic disorder, depression and schizophrenia. General psychiatry courses also inform nurses of preference rates in child, adult or old age mental disorders.

  • Therapeutic Relationship Aspects of Mental Health Nursing

Mental health patients can prove difficult to understand and even control. For this reasons, PMHNP are trained on how to create lasting rapports with their patients. Creating such patient- nurse therapeutic alliances helps in better controlling of the patients who can sometimes be unruly. Student nurses are equipped with nine basic aspects of mental health nursing like being genuine, empathic and understanding, providing support, individualizing care, being available among others.

  • Psychiatric Pharmacology and Medications

PMHNs as Nurse practitioners have the mandate to carry out diagnosis and prescribe medication to their patients. In this case, nurses are trained on pharmacology of mental health nursing. This includes the different classes of drugs like anti-depressants, antipsychotic drugs, anesthesia, anxiolytics and electroconvulsive therapy among others.

  • Psychological Therapies

Many of mental health patients and their families are likely succumb to depression and distress issues. This makes it necessary for psychiatric nurses to get trained in counseling and psychology. Therapies directed towards calming the fast-pacing brain of patients are necessary. This bracket of courses also includes spiritual interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy, situation therapy and psychotherapies.

  • Nursing Ethics and Rights for The Mentally Ill Persons

This is an important aspect of mental health nurse training. Psychiatric patients have well outlined rights governing their rights over forceful hospital confinement and being forced to undertake serious processes without judgmental capacity. The mental nurse must be aware of such rights where bleaching them can be lead to harsh action upon them.

Among other credits nurses take while in mental nursing training include mastering of behavioral patterns, caring for the substance abuse patients and caring for patients with self-destructive disorders. As usual no nursing training is complete without comprehensive and supervised clinical practicum sessions. PMHNPs are no exception and they get involved in clinical rounds in home- based care centers, community care centers, psychiatric hospitals or adult centers.

Successful completion of mental health nurse training gives the nurse eligibility for sitting an exam that leads to entry into the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This membership exam is offered by the American nurses credentialing center (ANCC).

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