Mental disorders in the UK are a common problem, affecting one in six adults. These disorders include anxiety, depression, bipolar, eating disorders, borderline personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, personality disorders and schizophrenia. When these conditions become debilitating, mental health nurses are needed to promote and support patients’ recovery, helping them live independent and fulfilling lives.
You will mostly find mental health nurses in hospitals, specifically in the psychiatric ward. They also offer their services in community health centers or people’s homes. Regardless of their work locations, mental health nurses need to build effective relationships with patients, their families, caregivers, and close friends.
Patients’ needs tend to be very specific, which may cause different challenges daily. For this reason, mental health nurses need to have interpersonal skills such as persistence, patience, and empathy. Success comes from forming trusting relationships quickly, enabling patients to understand their situation and get the best possible outcome.
Despite the challenges of being a mental health nurse, the career comes with numerous benefits including:
What are the benefits of being a mental health nurse?
There are numerous benefits to being a mental health nurse. If you are a nurse considering specializing in the mental health sector or exploring a career in nursing, here are some of the benefits.
- High job demand and security
First, there is a demand for mental health nursing in the UK due to decreased qualified practitioners. The shortage affects both public and private sectors, which makes mental health nursing one of the job opportunities that are high in demand. Today, the government is turning to the private sector to meet the mental health requirements of its people. For the above reasons, most professionals in the mental nursing field don’t wait too long after graduation until they get a job posting.
Those who make it to the field also have a high level of employment security. Most mentally ill patients require long-term care, meaning that nurses need to regard it as a life-long job. Due to patients’ ongoing care, registered mental health nurses need to commit to working for a long time, eliminating the risk of unemployment and loss of jobs.
- Flexible working hours and great pay
The standard working week for a mental health nurse is around 37.5 hours on shift patterns which can be early mornings, evenings, nights, holidays, and weekends. You, therefore, have the liberty to work during hours that mesh with other aspects of your personal life. For example, if you have online classes at night, you can choose an early morning shift and get the rest of the day. The UK’s salary for mental health nurses varies, but they have clearly defined pay bands.
- Career advancement
A mental health nurse in the United Kingdom can specialize in a particular field, but that varies from state to state. There are different opportunities within the mental health center that you can specialize in, with psychosis being the most common specialization, which is also high in demand. Other areas of specialization include psychopharmacology, mental health act, safeguarding, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, drugs and alcohol, and depression.
Becoming a registered mental health nurse
If you want to become a mental health nurse, you need to have at least a graduate degree from any UK university specializing in mental health and undergo intensive training. The academic entry requirements for each university vary depending on the reputation and establishment of the institution.
Besides educational qualifications, mental health nurses need certain qualities to make it to the field. For example, these professionals require a strong personality and good communication skills. Mental health nurses also need to communicate effectively with patients regardless of their mental state and their families. They also need to have a solid understanding of mental health problems and the ability to apply theories and concepts in real-life situations. Being a mental health nurse can be tedious, so it is important to have resilience and patience. Patients with mental disorders often experience social stigma, which can be challenging to overcome, so nurses need to be friendly, engaging and empathetic to service users.
If you are interested in becoming a registered mental health nurse, you have multiple reasons to follow your decision. The first and most important one is you will be making a significant difference in people’s lives, helping them live independent lives.