Do you have a way with people from all walks of life? Are you caring and calm in any kind of situation? Then you might have what it takes to become a Mental Health Nurse.
As many as one in three people will experience mental illness at some point in their lives. It’s the job of a Mental Health Nurse to help those for whom such problems have become debilitating. You might work in a hospital setting or in the community, but your main responsibility will be to build relationships with patients, supporting them as they go through the recovery or treatment process.
Day-to-day responsibilities will vary, but this job typically involves:
- Helping patients take their medication
- Administering general care to patients going through the treatment process
- Advising service users about potential therapies or social activities
- Liaising with multidisciplinary teams including GPS, social workers and psychiatrists to provide the best possible outcome for patients
If you want a standard, nine to five job where pretty much the same thing happens each day, then do not apply. Mental Health Nurses need to be ready for anything and flexible enough to deal with it.
You should also be prepared for evening, weekend and shift work, as patients often need care for 24 hours a day and someone must be available to provide this.
A great Mental Health Nurse will be:
- Knowledgeable about mental illness
- Warm and engaging
- Empathetic with every user of mental health services
- Able to stay calm in a crisis
- Observant enough to spot potentially problematic situations before they become a problem
- Good at communicating with everyone from patients and their families to healthcare experts
- Emotionally resilient enough not to take every case home
Nursing people with mental health issues can be very challenging, but the reward comes from watching a patient completely rebuild their life, partly based on the support you have given them. I know I'm making a real difference when I go to work each day, which isn't something everyone is able to say. I also benefit from being able to work with a fantastic network of people who are always there to offer a word of support when I'm having a tough day.
To be a Mental Health Nurse, you need to train as a Nurse first, which means getting a degree in pre-registration nursing. You can choose to specialise in mental health before you start learning so your education is as relevant as possible, plus your degree will be half practice so you can plenty of experience as well as the theory. You can then register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and get a job.
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