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The Role of a Nurse in Mental Health

When building a career, a nurse might want to consider the option of specialization. It means the process of becoming an expert in a chosen subject by expanding the scope of knowledge and practice. Nowadays, there is an immense need for nurses in mental health care – a field that remains narrow and understaffed. Within a mental health treatment team, the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner is assigned a unique role. Nurses in mental health care have appropriate training and medication to organize both psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological interventions (Leahy & Kohler, 2013). Since mental health disorders usually require a combination of psychotherapy and medication, a nurse can help to develop a balanced treatment plan (Townsend & Morgan, 2017). In their daily practice, nurses approach patients from different perspectives: biological, psychological, emotional, and social. Thus, in a team, an APRN can play the role of a mediator and collaborate with every other member, sharing knowledge about patients.

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When approaching mental health issues that require promptness, delicacy, and thoughtfulness, it is imperative that a nurse is a confident and competent provider. Skill and trust in oneself are the traits that a person builds over time, given that he or she practices relentlessly. Confidence and competency draw on both hard and soft skills. Sufficient knowledge and training help nurses make better decisions in the workplace, while therapeutic communication allows for conveying ideas and providing emotional support.

Today, many nurses rely on medication when treating mental disorders. Improving knowledge and raising awareness could enable health workers to take up a more holistic approach toward mental health care patients (Leahy & Kohler, 2013). The traditional disease-oriented approach – the one that dismisses a person’s complexity and social and emotional components of their being – is no longer seen as effective. Over-reliance on drugs in the United States has led to an epidemic of opioid and antidepressant abuse (Evans & Sullivan, 2014). Thus, it is vital that nurses collaborate with psychologists and social workers to examine mental issues from different angles and find a complex solution.


Evans, E. A., & Sullivan, M. A. (2014). Abuse and misuse of antidepressants. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 5, 107.

Leahy, L. G., & Kohler, C. G. (Eds.). (2013). Manual of clinical psychopharmacology for nurses. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Pub.

Townsend, M. C., & Morgan, K. I. (2017). Psychiatric mental health nursing: Concepts of care in evidence-based practice. Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis.

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