Doucette, Karley - Mental Health Nurse

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[edit] Job Title

Mental Health Nurse (Karley Doucette)

[edit] General Overview

A mental health nurse is a Registered Nurse who has a specialty in mental health. They provide assessments to individuals, and families who are experiencing difficulties with their mental health ( Mental health nurses help patients who are experiencing mental health issues, recover and learn how to control their illness in their day to day life. They provide support and mental processes to help these patients recover.

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

Mental health nurses generally work with other members of an interdisciplinary treatment team for the patient. Some of their member duties and individual duties include: - Evaluating patient’s needs and creating a treatment plan - Delivering psychotherapy and other forms of treatment - Providing personal and supportive care - Providing details and information to families and caregivers

(, 1999)

[edit] Typical Workday

A typical workday for a mental health nurse may vary depending on their workplace. They may work in places such as hospitals, private practices, residential units, substance abuse programs or home settings. Typically a day of a mental health nurse consists of: - Administering medication - Giving advice and providing support to patient and/or family - Cooperating with psychologists, social works, other nurses - Writing patient records - Monitoring medications and the stability of patient, and providing care to patient A mental health nurse will have a work day similar to any other nurse. They work 12 hour shifts, 4 times a week and occasionally may have to work shift work or on call shifts. There could be particular conditions that would make the job busier than some days and those conditions may include a traumatic event happening in the area. Most days however will be fairly similar in terms of pace. One other condition that would be a factor to the pace of the workplace would be location. A mental health nurse working in a large city centre, would be busier than that of a mental health nurse working in a smaller city centre. (

[edit] Educational Requirements and Other Qualifications

First one would need to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in order to be eligible to write the RN licensing examination. Two years experience as a mental health nurse would then be required in order to be eligible to the Canadian Nurses Association specialty certification examination ( This examination must be taken every 5 years to ensure the nurse is maintaining ongoing education in this specialty ( This would then allow one to call themselves a mental health nurse or a psychiatric mental health nurse. There are also college graduate certificates available to take in order to advance the nurse’s knowledge of mental health (

[edit] Related Skills, Interests, and Abilities

There are many skills and abilities associated with being a mental health nurse. Some of those include: - Communication between patient, yourself and the family - Caring and understanding - Teamwork - Professionalism - Excellent observation - Compassion - Commitment - Ability to empathise - Verbal/written/nonverbal communication skills - Understanding of mental illness

[edit] Relevance of Psychology Undergraduate Degree

A mental health nurse needs to have a thorough understanding of mental illness. By achieving a psychology degree, you can achieve this knowledge of mental illness through courses like brain and behaviour and abnormal psychology. This would make it easier for a Registered Nurse to be eligible to write the examination for the Canadian Nurses Association specialty certification. With a degree in psychology, you would also learn how to handle and deal with the sensitivity and stigma around mental illness. As a psychology student, I have become a strong advocate of reducing the stigma around mental illness simply because I have learned in detail how certain mental illness change a person and how they can affect one’s life. I think that that gives you a certain compassion and understanding for those who live with mental illness. A degree in psychology would also be relevant for a mental health nurse because it provides the nurse another perspective on how to view a case. A nurse without a background in psychology may not understand some of the emotional, mental issues a patient is going through, whereas with a background you may be more sensitive to these issues and how to handle them.

[edit] Salary Potential

Entry level jobs for a registered nurse would begin around $20 per hour. As the level of experience increases, mental health nurses can achieve an hourly pay of $40-45. Annually, a mental health nurse can make between $40,000 and $90,000. Due to the circumstances of working in a hospital/on call, a lot of mental health nurses are offered overtime hours which further increases their salary. (

[edit] Job Outlook

According to the Canadian Nurses Association, Canada will be short almost 60,000 nurses by 2020. Within Ontario, almost 70% of RNs are currently employed in a full time career. With the required education, it would be fairly easy to find a suitable career in nursing in the upcoming years due to this shortage. (

[edit] To Know More

For more information on mental health nurses following the links below,

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