My thoughts on Mental Health Nursing - page 2

by Elladora

15,722 Views | 34 Comments

I posted this on my facebook wall a while back and thought I would share it here... When I tell people I work in mental health, I almost always get a negative reaction. I get asked if there was nothing else left, am I... Read More


  1. 5
    Oh, I have received what I refer to as "the look" many a time before from nurses, doctors, friends, family, etc. when I tell them I'm a psychiatric/addictions nurse. "The look" is a combination of shock, fear, and disgust - usually followed by such statements as, "Why would you ever want that job?", "Aren't you scared?", and "You're going to lose all your skills!"

    I want this job because it is fascinating and challenging. I can honestly say I am never bored. While it is true that we get many "frequent flyers," we do have a few patients that overcome their illnesses and it is incredibly rewarding.

    I would be lying if I said there were times I was not scared, we all get that patient every now and again that shakes us to the core but the old saying is true "safety comes in numbers." I don't feel afraid with adequate staffing and, if needed, security and supervisory presence.

    As for my skills, what about the new ones we learn? I pride myself on my interpersonal communication skills and strong patient advocacy. As for inserting Foleys, IVs, etc. Those things are EASY to re-learn.
    krob0729, Meriwhen, deleern, and 2 others like this.
  2. 5
    ahhh, I love this!!! Especially the part where you said that "The clients I work with are ill, not scary". I whole heartedly agree with the last statement. :-)
  3. 5
    I'm so glad that you posted this. I'm currently a medical anthropologist (I did my undergrad projects on mental health stigma), and I would like to be a psychiatric nurse some day (particularly at a VA hospital dealing with PTSD, TBI and addictions.) It's pretty amazing the amount of stigma attached to mental illness or working with people with mental illness. What's even more shocking is that healthcare professionals often have more of a stigmatizing view against people with mental illness than the general population!
    VivaLasViejas, sapphire18, deleern, and 2 others like this.
  4. 3
    Thank you for sharing this I have accepted a new graduate position in an in-patient mental health unit and I'm looking forward to starting my career here

    I have been discouraged by some fellow classmates negative comments about mental health nursing, but the important thing is that I love psychiatric nursing and helping people cope with their mental illness
    Meriwhen, deleern, and Elladora like this.
  5. 0
    I am a nursing student and just accepted my first medical related job as a care partner on a medical psych unit. I'm really excited about it, but everyone else seems to think I'm crazy ( no pun intended) I'm so glad to read this and see that you enjoy it, because I find psych nursing to be fascinating! On my unit we have portable panic buttons and security close by, so just that alone gives me peace of mind! Thank you for your thoughts, I don't care what anyone says, psych is interesting!
  6. 2
    My Psychiatrist/MD has told me that I have saved his license on many occasion, because of my Medical back round. I have 5 years as a Care manager for a 68 bed Nursing home ( I did all the rounds with all the Md's). I have been working on the In Patient setting for a year and I love it. I do Groups, Pass meds. (piece of cake compared to LTC) I do Admission, and Discharges when as I work as a Staff nurse.

    As Charge nurse I assess the phone calls From the ER's from all over the state of MN. to review appropriateness for admission. That involves getting HX and reviewing labs results, then consult with MD. I go to team meeting each morning we meet with 4 of the 10 psychologists, the Psychiatrist, 2 social workers. we review each Pt. It is so different than LTC So much more rewarding.

    I do not care what the public preception is. I know what I do is life changing for the people I work with. We save lives not Like an ER nurse. We get someone in there darkest hour. and in 3 days to a week they are back home and feeling better. It can be as simple as a Med change to getting the right services for some one.
    Wet Noodle and Meriwhen like this.
  7. 1
    I'm a nursing student, and I work at a Psychiatric Board and Care in Minneapolis. I've had older nurses tell me that psychiatry is a "dead end" of medicine. I've witnessed burnt-out nurses, who would try and pass off as much of their work and only do "real nursing things," and when they got a bad review, would declare that it was "time to move into a more challenging job." No, time to stop being a jerk to your coworkers and look in the mirror. I've had many fellow students say "I could NEVER handle it." Well, yes, you could handle it. And like the OP said, there are plenty of acute health concerns. Like you said, it's different every day. I have a bachelors in a very unrelated field, and I think it takes everything I've ever learned ever to do my job. It's not as sexy as running around and saying I want to work in NICU or whatever, but it IS medicine, and it is vital.
    silenced likes this.
  8. 0
    I started work a couple months ago as a CNA on a geriatric psych unit and on a chemical dependency unit....and I really like both so far! I ALWAYS come home with a funny/crazy story. Some days are tough, (and yes, some of those geriatric patients have some MUSCLE, so be careful) but I still love it. It's really rewarding and humbling to spend time with people who are mentally handicapped, or are putting themselves through treatment and trying to fix their own substance abuse problems. I'm still deciding if I want to be a Psych RN once I graduate, only because I really like pediatrics, OR, and critical care nursing, too.
  9. 0
    I just recently started working on a medical psych unit as a care partner and honestly, I love it so far. The patients are interesting, the staff is nice and caring, and there's always something interesting going on. I'm also unsure about whether I'll become a psych nurse after I graduate, but i'm thinking about it. Nothing bothers me more than when people say that psych nursing either breeds lazy or crazy, it is so not true! I love love love my unit, and I don't feel crazy OR lazy!
  10. 0
    I feel crazy some days! But as for lazy, no. I daresay anyone that says psych nurses are lazy has never worked as a psych nurse.


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