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How to become a Nurse specialising in Mental Health

nurse specialising in mental health careers

What does a Nurse specialising in Mental Health do?

Mental health nurses, also known as psychiatric nurses, work in hospitals or in the community helping people who suffer from a range of conditions such as anxiety and stress-related illnesses, to more severe problems including personality disorders, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Mental health nurses can work with a variety of different patients or specialise in a particular group such as adolescents or offenders. Their work may involve giving medication to patients; counselling and support, either one-to-one or in groups; using role play, art, drama and discussion as therapies; and occasionally physical care if the patient is too old or ill to look after themselves.

Mental health nurses work closely with a patient’s family, friends and carers. They work as part of a team that includes psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and health visitors. The may also liaise with social workers, police, charities, local government and housing officials where necessary.

What's the working environment like working as a Nurse specialising in Mental Health?

Nurses in the NHS work 37.5 hours a week, which can include evening, weekend and night shifts. In the community, most work is done during the day, although there may be an on-call rota for emergencies. Many hospitals offer flexible hours of work. Some nurses work extra hours, either as overtime or for nursing agencies that supply staff to the private sector.

Mental health nurses work in hospitals, residential hostels, day centres, patients’ homes, and special units, for example, for drug dependency. Those who work with offenders may be based in a secure unit or special hospital.

Community mental health nurses may work alone. A driving licence is usually required.

What does it take to become a Nurse specialising in Mental Health?

To be a mental health nurse, you should:

  • be understanding, sympathetic and non-judgmental
  • be a good listener and able to gain a patient’s trust
  • be able to interpret body language and other non-verbal communication
  • be able to relate well to families
  • stay calm and in control in difficult situations
  • be persuasive – to ensure patients follow treatment plans
  • be assertive to represent patients’ interests.

Nurse specialising in Mental Health Career Opportunities

Opportunities are good, as there is a shortage of nurses in the UK. Promotion prospects in the NHS are excellent and there is a clearly defined career structure. There are new nurse consultant posts at the top of the profession. There are some opportunities in the private sector and in social service teams.

Mental health nurses may also train for another branch of nursing - adult, child, learning disability, or train for other roles such as sister or charge nurse.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Nurse specialising in Mental Health that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

NHS Careers
PO Box 376
BS99 3EY
Tel: 0845 606 0655

Nursing and Midwifery Admissions Service (NMAS)
New Barn Lane
GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0870 112 2206 for general enquiries
Tel: 0870 112 2200 for application packs

Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS)
New Barn Lane
GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0870 1122 211

23 Portland Place
Tel: 020 7637 7181
Registration contacts
Overseas: 020 7333 6600
General: 020 7333 9333

NHS Education for Scotland
Careers Information Service
66 Rose Street
Tel: 0131 225 4365

Health Professions Wales
2nd Floor, Golate House
101 St Mary Street
CF10 1DX
Tel: 029 2026 1400

Northern Ireland
Queens University of Belfast
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Medical Biology Centre
97 Lisburn Road
Tel: 028 9097 2233

University of Ulster at Jordanstown
School of Nursing
Shore Road
Co Antrim
BT37 0Q
Tel: 08700 400 700

Courses to help you become a Nurse specialising in Mental Health