How to become

How to become a mental health nurse

How to become a mental health nurse

A psychiatric nurse: What is she?

Psych nurses work with people of all ages, including kids, teens, and adults. They are adept at treating a variety of conditions, including substance misuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression.

Psych nurses, often referred to as psychiatric-mental health nurses (PMHNs), offer mental health care to both individuals and communities. They must be flexible, open to other lifestyles, have strong foundations in the basic and behavioral sciences, and have great interpersonal and communication skills.

Salary of a Psychiatric Nurse

Salaries for psychiatric nurses vary according to your level of education, years of experience, employer size, and the area in which you live and work. The median annual wage for registered nurses in May 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was $77,600, or $37.31 per hour. Unfortunately, the BLS does not distinguish between various nurse specialties.

According to, the average yearly salary for a nurse working in a psychiatric or substance abuse hospital setting was $67,838, however conditions differ by region.

 The average yearly salary for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners is $141,921, making them one of the highest compensated nursing specialties. Nursing earnings are increased through pay differentials. For night or evening shifts, charge tasks, or for training new nurses, they are paid on top of your base hourly rate. Sometimes employers will pay more for BSN or MSN degrees. Depending on how many nurses are needed, sign-on bonuses might be offered. In some workplaces, nurses are also entitled to overtime compensation.

What Do Psychiatric Nurses Actually Do?

Psychiatric nurses are organized, responsible, and good at managing several objectives. It’s vital to have the capacity to control your own emotional reactions under demanding circumstances, such as those involving escalating patients. It helps if you enjoy learning new treatments, especially how to utilize drugs.

Maintaining a balance between your personal and work life requires you to develop effective self-care habits. For a successful career in mental health nursing, flexibility and an open mind toward patients from all ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, and value systems are “musts.”

A psychiatric nurse might:

evaluate the condition of the patient

According to treatment and nursing care plans, provide care.

Counsel clients and oversee therapeutic groups

administering medication while monitoring reactions and negative consequences

coping skills to patients or clients

Cooperate closely with the rest of the medical team

Primary care facilities and other settings use advanced practise psychiatric nurses.

Your responsibilities call on you to collaborate and work alone:

Evaluation and diagnosis of mental health issues

Create and implement treatment strategies

Provide primary medical care

prescribing drugs

ordering and analyzing diagnostic exams

Administer therapy

Make recommendations as necessary

Top Universities for Psychiatric Nurses

the various schools that train students to become psychiatric nurses according to the criteria listed in the methodology. 

Rutgers University

University of Michigan School of Nursing

Chamberlain University: College of Nursing & Public Health

University of South Florida

Vanderbilt University

Career Outlook for Psychiatric Nurses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2020 and 2030, nursing employment is expected to increase by 9%. Due to the aging of our population and the approaching retirement of baby boomer nurses, there is a shortage of psychiatric nurses.

As more people become aware of mental health issues, there is no doubt that more people will seek assistance. As of 2019, 51.5 million adults in the United States, or roughly one in five, suffer from a mental disease, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Psychiatric nursing will undoubtedly be in demand in the future at all levels, especially given the current scarcity of licensed nurses.

Where Do I Find the Best Positions for Psychiatric Nurses?

You can start your search for jobs as a mental nursing professional from a variety of places. First, look through the “Careers” sections of hospitals’ and organizations’ websites. These days, there are many internet tools available, including job boards, career sites, and specialized nursing employment sites like ours.

According to a 2012 study, the nursing shortage will have an especially negative impact on states in the South and the West. Florida, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and New Mexico are the 12 states with the most severe shortages anticipated. Look at the chances in these places; your dream position as a psychiatric nurse might be there.

A flexible career path, psychology nursing offers a range of patients, work environments, and abilities. The health and quality of life of patients, their families, and communities are significantly improved by psychiatric nurses. You will be aware as a mental health nurse that your everyday efforts enhance the wellbeing of our society as a whole.

How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse ?

Step 1: finish your nursing programme.

You must first complete an introductory nursing programme. A clinical rotation in psych nursing is typically available in programmes, allowing you to experience what it’s like to work in the industry. Another way to gain experience working with these patients is to volunteer in a facility that caters to those with mental health concerns.

A two-year associate’s programme in nursing, a three-year diploma programme in nursing (often hospital-based), or a four-year college or university programme leading to a bachelor’s degree in nursing are all options for graduation.

Step 2: Earn your RN license 

Take the NCLEX, often known as the RN licensing exam, after graduating (National Council Licensure Examination). In the United States and Canada, nurses must pass the NCLEX to become licensed.

If you pass this test, you can begin applying for nursing jobs.

Step 3: Obtain your Psychiatric Nursing Certification.

You can obtain certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which grants this certificate, if you wish to sharpen your abilities even further.

The following criteria must be met, and certification is good for five years:

Possess an active, valid RN license in an American state or territory, or the professional, legal equivalent in another nation.

practiced as a registered nurse for the equivalent of two years.

minimum of 2,000 hours of recent clinical experience in psychiatric-mental health nursing

completed 30 hours of psychiatric-mental health nurse continuing education within the last three years.

Step 4: Advance Your Career as a Psychiatric Nurse

Become an advanced practise psychiatric nurse to increase your earning potential and scope of practise. Depending on your state, the designation is either psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC) or psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist (PMHCNS-BC). For additional details on these jobs, see our article CNS vs. CNP. Visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to review the regulations in your state.

A master’s or doctoral degree in nursing is required for advanced practice psychiatric nurses. These nurses are certified by the ANCC as well.