Who is a Mental Health Nurse

2024 Mar 22

The human mind is a complex and detailed subject. The job of a Mental Health Nurse is to understand and look after the needs of the same. It is an important role in healthcare, requiring patience, level-headedness, kindness and a care-giving attitude.

Do you have an interest in providing mental health support? If so, let us take a look at how you can start your career as a Mental Health Nurse!

The Journey to Becoming a Mental Health Nurse

Your journey to becoming a Mental Health Nurse starts with your education. To begin, you must go through a Bachelor in Nursing degree. This is the minimum qualification that you need to start your journey.

Now, let us go through the roles and responsibilities that you will have.

The Role and Responsibilities of a Mental Health Nurse in the UK

Mental health issues are often a difficult topic for patients. Your primary roles and responsibilities as a Mental Health Nurse are - 

  • Understanding - Know the needs of the patient before you can take steps to treat them. You must also know all key details about your patient. 
  • Empathy - Try to get to know your patient better. Put yourself in their shoes and genuinely try to care for and help them.
  • Treatment - You are responsible for any therapy and medication of your patient. You must also monitor their progress and ensure they get the right care at the right time.
  • Counselling - Provide support and counsel your patients to help them feel better. You can improve your patient relationships by being a friend, a caregiver or fulfilling other roles.
  • Teamwork - You will work in a team with other nurses, therapists, psychiatrists and other staff. Collaboration and coordination are useful skills here.
  • Record-keeping - Schedule and store records of the patient’s treatment to make sure of the patient’s progres

The Challenges and Rewards of Mental Health Nursing

Dealing with the Complexities of Mental Disorders

Mental health issues are not easily visible or evident for an individual. You need a thorough understanding of different disorders to provide better care. Here are certain qualities that are ideal & essential by a Mental health nurse -

  • Education and Application - Knowledge will help you tackle many different problems and make you more versatile. Experience comes with time, and will shape your career. But this can only happen if you learn and adopt that knowledge.
  • Communication and Compassion - Talk with your patient freely and often. Offer help and try to understand their struggle. The best approach to care in mental health is to provide a helping hand and support to your patient.
  • Safety - Your safety is as important as the safety of your patients. Make sure you are ready to deal with patients that pose a risk to others. They might not be fully in control, but you are. 
  • Recovery, not cure - Your patient is on their journey. You should ensure that they are fully recovered and are able to lead normal lives. Your focus must remain toward the same. 

Career Paths for Mental Health Nurses

The Growing Role of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners

In a post-Covid world, the role and opportunities for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) have only increased. Mental health is a more sensitive topic for healthcare practitioners to tackle now more than ever.

This is a special field of nursing which requires the skill set that we mentioned earlier. 

The Education and Certification Pathway for Mental Health Nurses in the UK

From Associate Degree to Advanced Nursing Degree

  • If you pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), the next step is a B.Sc in Nursing. It is the natural next step in your career as a Mental Health Nurse. 
  • After your B.Sc, you start your professional journey. As you gain more experience and skills, you can proceed further with your education by selecting a Graduate Programme.
  • If you want to choose the career path of a Mental Health Nurse, you can opt for the  Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Graduate Programme.
  • After you complete your Graduate Programme, and gain your license, you can start working as a PMHNP.

Jobs and Salary Expectations for Mental Health Nurses

The National Health Service (NHS) is the biggest healthcare employer in the UK. 

The pay in the NHS depends on the Band system, with Band 1 being the lowest and Band 9 being the highest. 

The salary for Mental Health Nurses in the Band system lies between Band 5 and Band 6. 

Band 5 - This is for Registered Nurses starting their career. They are freshly qualified nurses, and the pay is between £28,407 and £34,581.

Band 6 - This pay band is reserved for more experienced staff members. The pay is between £35,392 and £42,618. As you gain more experience in your field, you can even get beyond Band 6.


It might seem difficult to try and understand mental health. But with the right effort made towards care, Mental Health nurses can make patient lives much better. 

We hope that the information here has given you a better insight towards the challenges and opportunities in mental health nursing. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mental Health Nurses

What does a mental health nurse do?

Mental health nurses look after patients with mental health issues, providing care and support. 

What are mental health nursing skills?

Knowing your patient, empathy, care, and helping nature to provide mental support.

How many years of experience is required as a Mental Health nurse?

Mental Health Nurse training is 3 to 4 years. If you want to gather more skills, your time may increase. 

Is Mental Health nursing equivalent or related to psychology?

Psychology is the understanding of the needs of a human’s mind. Mental Health Nurses are part of a bigger team who look after these needs.

Is mental health nursing hard?

Mental Health Nursing is a role that requires genuine empathy and care for your fellow human. The challenge in this role is to understand and provide the right care.

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