Nurse is an individual that connects a patient to the doctor, helps improve their patients functioning skills. Nurses are the bridge that provide communication, comfort, and security to patients and their families. Nurses are the heroes that help individuals get the care and attention they need. Nurses adopt many roles when providing care to their patients such as a teacher, an advocate, or a leader. Nurses assist the patient physically and mentally while providing care. They serve as their patient’s advocate for the well-being of their physical and mental health. Nurse is the first person that a patient sees upon entering a healthcare facility and the doctor provides care based on the assessment of a nurse. Nurses work in various settings and play numerous roles in areas such as pediatrics, surgery room, emergency room, intensive care, geriatrics, psychiatric wards to name a few. Nurses are an important part of the health care system. Over the years, demand of nurses has been increasing as there are more baby boomers that are living past 90 years of age. Nursing is a diverse profession that brings individuals together across the globe to treat others. According to Nurse Journal, “Nursing is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing careers are projected to grow 15% by 2026 — more than twice the average.” As the population grows, sickness increases and therefore, the need for nurses grows as well to take care of the sick. There are several areas that a nurse can specialize in. One of the most needed and growing areas in nursing is psychiatric and mental health nursing. To treat a patient with best care it is very important that a nurse is able to understand the psychological state of a person while treating them for a physical sickness. Understanding a patient holistically improves the care a patient receives because a lot of times mental sickness is underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. According to research 1 in 5 adults in the United States has a mental illness (APNA). The growing number of individuals with mental issues proves the need of nurses needed that specialize in this area to provide the best treatment tailored toward that patient. Psychiatric and mental health nurses provide the care and comfort that these individuals need to maintain and balance their everyday lives. Psychiatric and mental health nurses are trained and certified to assist a patient that is suffering from a mental problem. They have the technique and knowledge that allows them to assist and care for patients individually because each person has their own care plan that is catered for their special needs.
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What is the role of a psychiatric and mental health nurse? “According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), psychiatric nurses are experts in crisis intervention, mental health assessment, medication and therapy, and patient assistance. Psychiatric nurses work closely with patients to help them manage their mental illnesses and live productive, fulfilling lives” (APNA). Psychiatric and mental health nurses play an important role in providing the appropriate care to patients that is individually planned for each patient. These nurses help these individuals to live a normal life by providing them with right resources and tools to help manage their individual situation. They work with their families as well in educating and providing resources about where to get help when needed. They work closely with the doctors and families to make sure that the patient gets the right treatment such as medications, therapy, counseling, and activities. They are specialized in caring for these individuals that are in dire need of help. Psychiatric and mental health nurses are certified by detailed and intensive training so that they are prepared to work with any population. Psychiatric and mental health nurses work in different areas such as hospitals, clinics, prisons, schools, and even provide home visits to ensure the well being of their patient. It is a subspecialty that requires a lot of compassion, dedication, and hard work because the patients that they work with have gone through a lot before starting their journey back to normal life and therefore it is pivotal that the nurse caring for them is ready to take on the challenge with a positive attitude and give the best care he/she can. Psychiatric and mental health nurses are needed across the nation to help individuals access the right mental health care. Millions of people in the United States live with a mental illness and do not have access to the right treatment due to different reasons and education. It is very important that people know that it is okay to have a mental illness and there are professionals out there to help them. There is a big gap in the healthcare system when it comes to getting insurance for the physical well being and mental well-being. Fortunately, “Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the US continues to see a decline in Americans who are uninsured” (Mental Health America). More and more people can access to the care they need. However, there is a shortage when it comes to healthcare professionals specially nurses that are needed to help these individuals get better.
Demand for mental health services has increased significantly in recent years, primarily because more Americans have health insurance which includes mental health care. Because of increased demand for mental health services and the diminishing stigma surrounding mental health conditions, psychiatric and mental health nurses are in great demand to fill many of these mental health jobs (Health Progress). Due to social media, people are becoming aware of mental health issues through different outlets. As people are becoming aware of the help they need, there is not enough professional staff available to meet the needs of these individuals that are in need. Psychiatric and mental health nurses are trained to assess, diagnose, make an individual care plan, and treat patients with the expertise they have. They have the expertise to treat patients through therapy, medication, and communication. People who need care for mental health issues may suffer from a range of psychiatric conditions, including depression, acute grief, substance abuse, personality disorders and psychoses, schizophrenia, suicide, PTSD to name the major ones. Psychiatric nurses meet the challenge of forming strong therapeutic relationships with people who have mental illnesses and often with their families as well. They work with a team of health care professionals and are the most important part of the individuals care as they interact with the patient and their family directly. They can understand the needs of a patient better than a doctor because a doctor visits the patient less compare to the nurse who is available majority of the time taking care of them.
As more people in the United States have access to health insurance with the Affordable Care Act, there is an increase in number of patients reaching out to healthcare professionals for their needs. This is where psychiatric nurses and mental health nurses can fill in the gaps. These nurses equipped with tools and knowledge needed to provide care and treatment that a patient need. “This allows psychiatrists more time to spend with more complex and higher acuity patients” (CHAUSA). Two populations that can benefit the most from psychiatric and mental health nurses are adolescents and geriatric patients. World Health Organization states, “Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10–19 years.” This is a growing population that needs a lot attention. Adolescence is not an easy phase for a lot of children. Adolescents go through a transition in their life where sometimes it is hard to fit in their community or they do not have outlets to reach out to. They move through the various transitions that accompany such as physical, emotional, hormonal, sexual, and social transitions. The pressures and problems they encounter can be quite overwhelming. For many these transitions become a burden and can lead to mental health disorders. Some of the common disorders among this population are depression, suicide, drug abuse. According to research conducted by NAMI, “Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.” They go through identity crisis, need to fit in, look a certain way. These are some examples that show the importance of psychiatric and mental health nurses. Research shows, “the consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults (WHO). It is very important to recognize the sign and symptoms and treat them early so that these youngsters can have a healthy and normal future. Prevention and early interventions are the answer for adolescents to live a happy and healthy life.
Similarly, elderly also go through a transition in their life where they are left alone a lot of times and they are not able to meet the basic needs of daily living. They require assistance with the activities of daily living and depending on others is huge for some. Some elderly have dementia/Alzheimer’s disease and often go misdiagnosed because no proper assessment was done for them. United stated has the largest number of people living past age 65 (Haddad et al). As these people are getting older, their need for nurses also grows. A lot of time these individuals not only suffer from physical sickness but also from mental sickness. Psychiatric/mental health nurses are needed to take care of these individuals because they treat a person holistically. These nurses perform their assessment to get to know the person about their current situation, obtain background information, history of past illnesses, and do blood work/ labs to rule out any physical conditions that might be causing the person to react in a certain way. Psychiatric/mental health nurses look at all aspects to make sure they provide the best care and help their patients be independent and provide resources that they can use to maintain a healthy and normal lifestyle. Nurses in general are an important part of the health care system. They provide care for individuals in different fields and situations. Nurses have a compassion for human life and aim at making their patient’s life stress free and giving them all the tools that they need to be well again. Nurses specialize in different areas and psychiatric and mental health nurses have a specialty that no other sub-specialty can compete with. These individuals not only take care of their patient’s physical needs, but they also provide emotional support to the families who too go through a lot during the treatment of their loved ones. They provide resources for the family members on where to get help once the patient is discharged. The psychiatric/mental health nurses play a huge role in making sure that their patient is ready to go home or a safe place after getting discharged and work with other healthcare professionals such as case managers, social workers to satisfy and meet their patient’s individual needs.
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Nursing has been the most important part of healthcare system for ages. Over the years there have been many changes to health care system and nurses have always been the center when it comes to patient care. Psychiatric and mental health nurses specifically provide all the services to their patients from grooming to medication. They make sure that their patient is on their way to live a normal life that is well maintained. The growing demand for psychiatric and mental health nurses and their services can be credited to the mainstream media that has served as a tool in providing awareness to people. Moreover, the government’s Affordable Care Act has raised awareness of mental health and increased resources for treating individuals that need treatment. As a result, more psychiatric and mental health nurses are required to help treat and care for patients. Psychiatric and mental health nurses assess and look after the mental health needs of patients and their families. This subspecialty is increasing in demand as more awareness is spread through mainstream media that allows people to reach out to their providers to get the help they need. With the population of people with mental sickness increasing, more and more nurses are needed to make sure that these patients get the proper diagnosis and treatment they deserve, and it could only be achieved if there are enough qualified and trained nurses available.
- Adolescent mental health. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-mental-health
- Haddad, L. M. (2019, January 19). Nursing Shortage. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493175/
- Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.chausa.org/publications/health-progress/article/january-february-2016/meeting-the-needs-of-people-with-mental-illness-psychiatric-mental-health-nurse-practitioners
- Mental Health in America - Access to Care Data. (2016, October 17). Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/mental-health-america-access-care-data
- NAMI. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3292#10
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