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Mental Health Worker interview...need tips!


Hello all. I am a nursing student graduating in August who wants to go into Psych nursing immediately upon graduation. I am thrilled as I just landed an interview next week at the hospital I want to work at post-grad for a Per Diem Mental Health Worker position. I was hoping you could fill me in on the job responsibilities, role, etc of a MHW as well as give me any tips on questions that may be asked during the interview process. I feel that the interview may be on the informal side as the Dir of Nursing said she "just wanted to meet with me to discuss availability etc" but I want to be well prepared either way!

Thanks in advance :)


Specializes in Psychiatric.

I'd give the same advice that I gave in this thread regarding a psych nursing interview. Good luck!

Thank you for the reply! That thread definitely gave me some good interview tips. If anyone has any information on Mental Health worker role that would be helpful as well.

I'm actually orienting right now as a mental health tech at a psych hospital. I'm assuming you'll have the same duties as a MHW. Is your hospital psych specific? At my hospital, MHTs are required to monitor patient's behavior/progress and guide them through their day. Each Unit has a schedule and since most of our facility is dedicated to peds the day goes something like this:

0700 Get patients up for AM vitals/ hygiene. We take vitals once every morning on every patient. They also do a goals sheet. This is used to determine what their personal treatment goals are for the day and how they intend to meet them(coping skills etc). On the back is a survey that asks if they are having trouble sleeping/eating/BM/problems with other patients or any other concerns. If they have any trouble doing their goals or answering questions MHTs help them.

0730-0830 is breakfast time and depending on how the morning is going and when we get everyone done with morning duties could run later. MHTs take patients to the cafeteria for meals as long as the patient is meeting certain progress criteria and has no unit restrictions. The units in this hospital are actually in separate buildings and the cafeteria is in it's own building as well so if patients are an elopement risk we don't take them off the unit. We take trays back for the patients stuck on the unit. MHTs have to record % of meal eaten for every patient and watch them throw away their spork.

After breakfast is quiet time/break for a few minutes then we usually take the non UR(unit restricted) or EP (elopement precaution) to the gym building for 45 minutes or so while the URs are eating breakfast.

around 10AM the teachers come in and round up patients based on their grade level and they have about 2 hours of school then lunch the lunch routine is the same as breakfast.

Another break after lunch to get ready/wash up for group therapy which generally happens on the unit unless it's a nice day and they decide to hold it outside.

After they have group, the patients have free time to write in their journals(as allowed based on self harm precautions and paper restrictions) or we will put on a movie and have snack time.

Around 1600 we will take them to the gym again or the art room then get them back to get ready for dinner and repeat the routine from breakfast/lunch. Then it's visitation/phone time for a couple hours depending on the day. Then, hygiene/winding down time/ evaluating if they have met their goals from their goal sheet and lights out time is earlier or later based on their progress. 2130 or 2230.

Throughout the day the patients are called to see the nurse for meds and their doctor for rounds. The MHTs make sure the patients are ready for their doctor when he/she comes. MHTs also are required to document every 15 minutes the appearance of each patient. Whether they are calm,anxious,upset etc or if they are sleeping. MHTs also have to document that each patient that participated in each activity throughout the day and any problems that arise. MHTs have to diffuse the tantrums that happen throughout the day, make sure everyone is following their specific precautions and most of all make sure that every patient is safe to themselves and others. We direct the patients day and have the most interaction by far with the patients. We are responsible for maintaining a therapeutic environment while maintaining boundaries and discipline.

When admitting patients MHTs search belongings for contraband and inventory their posessions. Do Vitals/wt/ht address any concerns that the pt has. We also do the UA/UDS for each admit and assorted paperwork.

The CD and Adult units are different but I'm not exactly sure how because I haven't experienced them yet. Obviously they don't have school time. I know with the CD patients MHTs have to take their vitals often while they are detoxing.

I have to say that the kids are tough but after AM meds kick in they are generally better. The adolescents are usually easier to handle. I have no idea about the Adults and CDs yet.

As for the interview, I was surprised that I wasn't asked any tough situational questions. Mostly the usual HR questions like 'how do I expect my previous work experience to apply to this job?'' why do you want to work here?'etc. When I had my second interview with the DON(the one I was most worried about because I had no patient care experience going into this) it was more her describing the duties of the job and asking me if they were acceptable to me and if I wanted the job than an interview. The best tip I can give you is to be assertive and go with a list of "good" questions. I was pretty quiet and really only spoke when spoken too ( I was nervous) and from what I understand they nearly cut me because of that. They prefer a more thick skinned/secure MHT

Hope this helps or even applies to you :clown:

wow thank you so much for the helpful info and taking the time to write that all out! that's a great breakdown and definitely gives me a better idea about my duties!

do you also get the opportunity to help or to independently lead groups as a MHT? I have read elsewhere that some people do.

wow thank you so much for the helpful info and taking the time to write that all out! that's a great breakdown and definitely gives me a better idea about my duties!

do you also get the opportunity to help or to independently lead groups as a MHT? I have read elsewhere that some people do.

Sure no problem, I was looking for an excuse to stay up a bit later anyway:smokin:

As for leading groups, no dice for us. I'm aware that other facilities do have their MHTs/MHWs lead groups but as far as I can tell, those hospitals require bachelors degrees in a psych/social specialty from their techs. Here, groups are lead by the therapists. Our only involvement in groups is to make sure patients are paying attention and being respectful.

nkhan129 i thank you too.