HealthEverything about Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners You Need to...

Everything about Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners You Need to Know


Psychiatric mental health nurses are well-trained to care for people with mental health problems across the lifespan. They are experts in assessment, disease diagnosis, treatment planning, and evaluation, sometimes offering some of the same services as doctors. The scope of practice for nurses varies from state to state, with rules and regulations differing from full practice to restricted or reduced practice. In around 22 states, nurse practitioners have complete practice authority. However, in states having restricted or reduced practice, nurses work under the authority of doctors or in collaboration with them. When providing care to patients, the psychiatric mental health nurse’s responsibility includes a series of steps such as:

  • Conduct mental health examinations and assessments.
  • Diagnose psychiatric ailment.
  • Educate patients and their families.
  • Recommend better treatment plans to patients, including medications.
  • Organize services for different healthcare components.

Strong Job Predictions for Advanced Practice Nursing

The profession of nurse practitioners is among today’s fastest-growing areas, with high rise projections in the coming several years. Practice settings associated with mental health are among the largest locations of growth. According to the BLS, there are various points of interest for the mental or psychiatric health nurse practitioner.

Nurse practitioners are one of today’s highly sought-after professional careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median annual salary for professional nurse practitioners at $109,820.

Psych Nurse practitioners can earn huge annual salaries than nurse practitioners in many other specialties. A MedPage (2019) today survey ranking of nurse practitioners’ salaries by their specialty lists the average psych NP salary of $139,976, putting that over the average salary for every NP, which is around $115,512. The report revealed that a psych NP must be around 19 of the 20 NP fields. The only specialty having a higher average salary of $166,969 was anesthesiology.

Further specializing in your field, such as becoming a certified psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, provides an advanced practice NP with different career opportunities.

Education and Certification Needs

Educational requirements for any professional psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner include a master’s degree in nursing with focused psychiatric or mental health studies. Completing your psychiatric nurse practitioner program will prepare you for a national certification examination administered by ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center).

Students are evaluated in broad fields of expertise for board certification administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The examination factors include practical skills, diagnostic and treatment skills, and scientific and fully legal analysis. These are a few examples of the series of competencies included in the testing:

  • Neurological growth, anatomy, and physiology.
  • Clinical examination and risk assessment.
  • Treatments and medications.

Specific Needs for a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

As many people face a huge crisis in mental health, there’s also an extreme shortage of professional psychiatric care providers. The increasing role of psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners can help fill this gap more efficiently.

Around 290,000 professional nurse practitioners are practicing in the United States, and less than 2% are certified in mental or psychiatric health–family. The requirements far exceed the available resources, which seems a convincing answer: “Why should you become a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner?”

Recent studies reveal a decline in the number of professional practicing psychiatrists in current years, while demands have also gradually increased. A summary of that research includes the following findings:

  • Over 77% of counties report unfavorable shortages of professional mental health providers in the U.S.
  • Around 55% of counties lack psychiatrists actively practicing.
  • Forty-three states are exposed to the large effects because of the lack of providers.
  • There is an estimated shortage of around 12–25% of needed practicing psychiatrists from 2020 and 2025.
  • The requirements for child and teenage psychiatric services are specifically severe.

Due to the restricted number of professional mental health providers, many people stay undiagnosed or wait for a long time for their treatment. National Alliance on Mental Illness explains that there is sometimes a gap of several years before someone starts the treatment. This delay indicates that the patient’s condition may gradually worsen, lowering the possibility of positive outcomes.

Ailments and Disorders Psychiatric NPs Treat

Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners treat a great variety of mental problems and disorders, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar, manic-depressive states
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Panic Disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dementia
  • Personality disorders
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Trauma, PTSD, adjustment disorders

Chance to Network Your Passion and Change Many Lives

Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners can create a lasting difference in patients’ lives. Effective prevention of mental ailment and its treatment have positively impacted long-term results, and professional nurse practitioners play a key role.

The U.S based Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion revealed strong connections between mental health intervention and satisfactory outcomes. Following are a few examples: 

  • Preventative care will impact the trajectory of problems that usually continue and grow over several years.
  • The intervention will lower the incidence of depression.
  • When mental healthcare starts at a very early age, there’s a higher chance to influence positive results. 
  • In various cases, severe mental health disorders can be preventable.
  • Mental health problem prevention involves combining healthcare, educational initiatives, and family dynamics.

The growing existence of a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner can be crucial to meeting mental healthcare needs. Beyond complete patient care, nurse practitioners can also become great leaders in a healthcare setting, advocating for system and cultural changes.

workforce development report (by American Psychiatric Nurses Association) recognizes numerous prospects for influence. A few of the suggested action sectors include:

  • Engagement in developing public policy.
  • Advocacy for the job of nursing in professional psychiatric care.
  • The strategic impact of mental health nurse practitioners in education.
  • Involvement in healthcare programs in leading organizations

Advancement in the role of a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner can position a professional nurse for a higher scope of impact. The chance to largely affect mental healthcare further solves the question, “Why become a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner?”


Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners are prepared with improved knowledge in their focused mental health field. 

Mental health nurse practitioners are well-positioned as a focal point of a patient’s mental healthcare and may require the managing services of any other specialist. Educated in the complete psychiatric care of acute and chronic situations, the psych nurse practitioners look out for their patient’s overall wellness and coordinate with other experts. 

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