What skills are necessary to succeed as a mental health nurse?

Mental health nurse (RMN) jobs can be a great opportunity for many nurses. It’s not always thought of as a possible career direction when you are getting your nursing degree; as often the emphasis of these course are around physical health. However, a lot of the skillsets learnt within your degree are tailored toward both physical and mental health. In this article, I will have a look at a few general skills that have a particularly important purpose within mental health nursing.

Firstly, just as much as physical health nursing, communication is key within this field. Your communication skills may have to be different when treating mental health patients though. Treating each patient differently, and understanding the best way to communicate with them, while observing whether they are fully understanding what you are asking/telling them. Just like other areas of healthcare, nurses are often the healthcare professional a patient will have the most interaction with. Thus, these communication skills need to be used in a way to build good, trusting relationships with patients. This will have a knock on effect to trust between the patient and other members of the healthcare team. In mental health, building this sort of trust can often be quite an arduous task, but is often more vital to the success of treatment than in physical healthcare.

Having an empathetic nature will help any nurse through their daily tasks. Empathy within mental health might not come as naturally, as problems aren’t as visible just on the surface. Therefore, a particularly strong empathetic nature is needed within mental health nursing. Closely tied with this is constantly being non-judgemental, some decisions of patients with mental health issues can be hard to comprehend. To show a level of judgement though can be damaging to the treatment process, have a negative long-term effect on the patient and is simply unprofessional. If you are able to achieve this, then it is possible to start to have a unconditional positive regard for patients. You may be one of the few, if only people in their life that is able to treat them like a fellow human being, an equal, a friend. Of course, this is important within physical health too. The main difference is that by being able to do all these things within mental health, you are creating the necessary conditions needed for treatment to have a chance of success.

Author: Oliver Curtis

Hi there. I’m Oliver. I’m just a young boy from the outskirts of… Okay, that’s a lie, I’m not a young boy anymore, although I certainly feel that way at heart.