11 Tips For Nurses Who Want To Work In Mental Health Care

Juliet D'cruz

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11 Tips For Nurses Who Want To Work In Mental Health Care

Mental health nurses are often concerned about starting their careers in psychiatry. Since PMHNs spend time with mental health patients, they require specialized education to handle someone suffering from psychological challenges. But how can you do that?

A mental health nurse should carefully analyze the suggestions mentioned below to become a better caregiver to these individuals. Remember that mental health nursing is all about controlling your gestures as well as regulating your emotions. Keep these two things in mind when you’re handling patients.

How to become a better psych nurse?

  • Control your emotions

Learn how to control your emotions and refrain from reacting. Observing patients doing/saying lots of weird stuff is standard in your career. This is why mental health nurses are trained to control themselves. You must command yourself to keep a poker face and avoid displaying your emotions too much. Don’t lose patience with mental health patients; remember that you are the caregiver in these situations. Never allow your feelings to overcome your judgment in the clinic.

  • Continue your education

The first stage of becoming a successful mental health nurse involves getting the proper education. A nurse shouldn’t neglect the importance of gaining the certificates employers expect her to possess. Moreover, distance learning allows you to attain these certificates remotely. You can explore several online PMHNP certificate programs available today to enhance your academic expertise. Boost your education with these certificates, and then keep honing your nursing skills with practical experience.

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  • Master therapeutic communication

Nursing schools discuss the importance of “therapeutic communication” with students because it’s one of the cornerstones of mental health nursing. Saying the wrong thing before the patient reduces the chances of success in recovery. Mental health nurses should be careful about communicating with patients correctly. Avoid escalating a situation by saying soothing things to angry patients. Effective dialogue in mental health nursing depends on you listening to people actively.

  • Listen without judgment

The worst thing you can do is judge a patient. Nursing school students are told to communicate with patients without judging them. You can’t earn their trust when you sound judgmental, and you can’t help them recover when you lose their confidence. So, make yourself impervious to outrageous statements. Listen to them while expecting them to say things you may despise. 

  • Regulate facial expressions

Concentrate on improving nonverbal communication and regulate your facial expressions and gestures. Don’t assume that your patients won’t notice your body language. They can observe the signs of nervousness or disinterest in your gestures. Even when you stay silent, the face may expose your innermost thoughts. That’s why focusing on your body language is essential. Remember that hearing something cringeworthy should not make you contort your face.

  • Keep yourself safe

For mental health nurses, assault and violence remain some significant concerns. Studies have stated that at least 24% of PMHNs face assault in the workplace in their career. And verbal threats are even more common. Nevertheless, your career depends on staying vigilant about a situation escalating and turning troublesome. Learn that setting clear-cut boundaries will help prevent your patient from being violent with you.

  • Understand their biases

You can’t expect mental health patients to act normally. So, having biases against a particular community isn’t something bizarre for these individuals. You don’t have to respect these biases or even validate them. Just understand that your patient has these prejudices. Some patients are prejudiced for valid reasons, such as a female patient suffering from trauma may be more inclined to talk to female PMHNs. So, understand these prejudices to take care of your patients effectively.

  • Validate their experiences

Never attempt to contradict your patient directly or invalidate their experiences. It’s not productive to “reorient” your patients by trying to explain to them why their hallucinations were meaningless. Instead, validate their experiences to earn their trust. Say stuff like “I hear you” or “I see you.” Use such neutral phases to calm down the patient.

  • Accept your patients

Understand your patient for surviving in mental health institutions. Observe their reactions to learn what attracts their attention and makes them more open to conversation. Accept them where they are right now to help them recover properly. You may have to repeat your question, rephrase an inquiry, or leave the query unanswered. Master the art of report-writing to tell the doctor how well the patient has responded to specific triggers, and that’s how you can become a successful nurse.

  • Don’t intimidate patients

Remember that mental health patients also suffer from abusive treatment by others, and PMHNs are supposed to express sympathy for them. Respect your patients and refrain from intimidating them. Sometimes, amateur mental health nurses can trigger patients without even knowing. For instance, it may be intimidating for them when you are sitting too close. In addition, some patients dislike it when someone touches them. Remember these negative triggers and focus on the patient’s body language cautiously.

  • Answer questions honestly

Focus on empowering your patients by answering their questions honestly. If you can’t, plainly admit that you’re not allowed to disclose that information. You shouldn’t keep them in the dark, as it may weaken the bond of trust you have with your patients. Keep them updated about the things concerning their well-being. When breaking upsetting news, alert your colleagues so the patient can be appropriately handled to avoid a dangerous incident.


We’ve established that psych nurses can better handle mental health patients by following the above-mentioned tips. Learn to control your emotions, avoid conflicting situations, and master therapeutic communication. Mental health nurses are supposed to validate their patients’ experiences, refrain from judging them, and focus on their safety when dealing with dangerous individuals. Understand their biases, honestly answer their questions, and listen to them without judgment. Accept your patients where they are, and don’t let your anger cloud your patience. Only then can you become a successful mental health nurse.

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