Mental illnesses, emotional disturbances, addictions, and cognitive disabilities have caused unprecedented suffering to millions worldwide. Did you know that more than 10% of the global population suffers from substance use and mental health disorders?
A survey conducted by an online scientific publication, Our World in Data, back in 2018 reveals far more alarming results. It indicates that over 950 million people worldwide suffer from an addiction or psychiatric illness. Patients admitted to psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities rely on compassionate nurses to help them come to terms with their symptoms.
Mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are mind-boggling for patients struggling with hallucinations or mood imbalances. When loved ones fail to comprehend the signs of suffering, nurses and mental health practitioners must step forward to help. Regardless of their specializations, nurses help patients overcome emotional trauma by supporting them throughout the treatment and recovery processes.
Whether they serve in the ER, senior care facility, or rehabilitation centers, nurses promote mental wellbeing by building relations with their patients. Keep reading to learn more about the role of nursing in promoting mental health awareness.
Diagnosing & Treating Mental Health Illnesses
Nurse practitioners specializing in psychiatry make significant contributions to mental health awareness. They fight the stigma at its root by making patients more aware of their emotional and cognitive wellbeing. Gone are the days when nurses were reduced to orderlies in psychiatric facilities, responsible for helping patients get in and out of bed.
Modern-day nurse practitioners perform many duties previously restricted to psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. Nurses who pursue MSN programs, state-mandated licensure, and advanced psychiatric training can diagnose and treat mental health disorders. Mental health nurses aspiring for direct patient-care involvement should explore PMHNP online programs to grow and advance their careers.
A psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) can diagnose mental disorders, prescribe medications, and administer psychotherapy to treat patients. PMHNPs treat various illnesses, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, psychosis, addictions, and perinatal mental wellbeing. Before pursuing specializations and psychiatric training, professionals require a BSN degree to become nurse practitioners.
PMHNPs are responsible for providing quality care in psychiatric facilities and extending support to caregivers. Nurses assess and evaluate the patient’s overall symptoms, develop adequate treatment plans, and administer therapies. In many cases, nurses consult and collaborate with other psychiatric practitioners to create a multidisciplinary treatment plan.
Suppose you’re interested in the mental health concerns of individuals from a specific age group or gender. In that case, you can pursue specializations in specific mental disorders or age-related illnesses. These include schizophrenia, adolescent concerns, geriatric mental health, prenatal care, or substance abuse. Passionate psychiatric nurses pursue further specializations and doctoral programs to advance their careers with leadership roles.
Empowering & Informing their Patients
Remember what we said about nurses fighting the stigma around mental health at its roots? Let’s talk more about that. Nurses eradicate the stigma by making psychiatric care and rehabilitation facilities safe and healthy spaces for patients to heal. They empower patients and caregivers with information about the complex symptoms of mental health disorders.
For instance, most family members caring for patients with schizophrenia, mood disorders, or eating disorders struggle to understand the symptoms. Nurses help them comprehend the psychological complexities, empowering them to take better care of patients. Psychiatric nurses promote healthy communication between patients and loved ones, strengthening support systems to encourage healing and recovery.
Nurses dispel myths and misinformation around psychiatric medications, treatments, holistic therapies, and counseling options. They help patients and caregivers find the best remedies to ensure positive outcomes and remain steadfast to the progress. Patients with mental health illnesses struggle to come to terms with their symptoms. For instance, nurses help patients recognize and manage the symptoms of anxiety disorders, enabling them to control their obsessions with rational responses.
Extending Support & Compassion
Nurses are mighty pillars of support who fight the pain of mental health illnesses in numerous healthcare settings and environments. They help students process the emotional turmoil and cognitive changes of transforming from adolescents to young adults in schools. Prenatal nurses help expecting and young mothers overcome the mental challenges of giving birth and coping with post-partum depression.
Support and compassion are two crucial ingredients in promoting mental health awareness and creating safe environments to encourage healing. Geriatric nurses help seniors come to terms with the mental health challenges of aging, especially cognitive decline, and memory lapses. Likewise, nurses working with substance use patients help them stay committed to 12-step programs by reaffirming their goals and celebrating progress.
Nurses reduce the global burden of mental illnesses by staging timely interventions whenever they notice signs of emotional distress or cognitive disturbances.
Fighting Social Stigmas & Rallying Community Support
Nurses worldwide champion the fight against social stigmas that discourage the reintegration of healed patients eager to return to their lives. Millions of people battling mental health and substance use disorders struggle to fight for housing, jobs, and a respectable living. After a prolonged battle with drug addiction or bipolar disorder, many patients struggle to reclaim their places in society.
Nurses who pursue MSN specializations and doctoral programs can explore numerous avenues to contribute to mental health awareness. Nurse practitioners and DNPs work with research organizations, NGOs, advocacy groups, and international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO). DNPs collaborate with politicians, policymakers, and like-minded peers to lead community-led mental health awareness programs.
Many nurses pursue research endeavors to dispel myths and fight social stigmas, while others eradicate misinformation in healthcare settings. Nurses play instrumental roles in rallying community support to help healed and recovering patients find their place in society. They collaborate with education facilities, community centers, and organizations to educate crowds on mental health illnesses and treatment options.
Nurses can pursue any cause that speaks to their heart, such as teen suicide, workplace bullying, post-partum depression, or anxiety disorders. To educate communities, they can channel their knowledge and expertise into distributing informative material, such as brochures and pamphlets. Or they can hold seminars and events in schools and companies to stir the conversation on employee and student wellbeing.
Once you identify the cause that ignites your passion for mental health awareness, you can map out a strategy. Nurses with advanced specializations in psychiatric care can educate communities on preventive care and risk factors. They can empower families and individuals with the tools to regulate their emotional and mental wellbeing and enjoy healthy life quality.
However, serving as a PMHNP demands rigorous training, pursuing academic qualifications, and fulfilling state-mandated licensure requirements. If that’s the career trajectory you’re aiming for, we suggest you start finding an online program today!