We all know when we’re physically hurting, but do we give the same amount of attention to our mental health? It seems like everyone’s mental health has been declining more than ever before. But, has it really? Or is it that we are just more open to talking about the issues that our psychological state can cause? At a time when demand for mental healthcare services is higher than ever before, there is a shortage of providers, specifically mental health nurses, available to do the job.
First and foremost, the United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. This means that patients suffering from addiction and overdoses are utilizing the same services as patients who need treatment for anxiety and depression. Not to mention, we, along with the rest of the world, are still dealing with the coronavirus. The pandemic’s quarantine made some people’s mental health deteriorate at an extreme level. Although the quarantine has helped us stay healthy physically, being isolated for a long time causes anyone to feel alone and anxious.
At the same time, federal healthcare laws are now pushing the industry to put equal importance on both physical and mental health. All of these factors are causing demand for mental health services to rise. Simultaneously, the shortage of mental health providers is only expected to grow. According to Modern Health’s blog, a recent study showed that healthcare facilities across the U.S. need to hire at least 10,000 more providers in several different mental health professions by 2025 to meet the growing demand. So, if you are someone who feels drawn to helping people who are often stigmatized and ignored in society, working as a psychiatric or a mental health nurse could be for you. Still not convinced? Check out this pros and cons list we made to help you decide if the mental health nurse career is right for you.
Three Pros of Mental Health Nurses
1. Helping Others
Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to becoming a mental health nurse. As a mental health nurse, you will be caring for people who are suffering from all kinds of emotional and mental distress and you’ll see a wide variety of distress. This can range from drug addiction to eating disorders to severe depression to schizophrenia. Yet, all of this emotional stress means that patients need someone who is kind and caring to look after them. That’s where you come in! It can be rewarding to help others with such personal struggles and to eventually see them heal. It is a satisfying feeling to know you played a part in helping your patient recover and is now in a happy, and most importantly, healthy state of mind.
2. Job Security
We’ve already hinted at this, but since there is a current shortage of mental health nurses you will have job security if you choose to get into this profession. Just like your typical doctor visits, we all need a mental health checkup occasionally. And, with more and more people talking about mental health every day, this career isn’t going to die down anytime soon. Our minds are our most powerful tool and, after all, tools sometimes need a little repairing.
3. Variety of Opportunities
There are many different types of mental health nursing positions, from LPN to RN. Plus, you can work in a variety of settings. For example, you could work in a nursing home, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, or in a hospital. Mental illness touches virtually everyone, from children to the elderly. So why not be a child’s superhero or a senior’s best friend?
Three Cons of Mental Health Nurses
1. Lack of Gratitude
We’re not going to lie to you. You are probably going to have some very difficult and aggressive patients. Although you will care for them with the same tenderness as you do all of your other patients, you may never get that thank you card as a mental health nurse. Often times, you are there for your patients during some of the most difficult times in their life. You are there for them more than some of their closest friends and family. Yet once they move on, you may never hear from them again or know for certain that your hard work really did pay off.
2. Emotional Stress
Let’s face it. You care about people. If you chose this medical profession, it is because you want to see others be happy. So, chances are that you are going to get emotionally attached to your patients, and you might even get personally invested in their recovery. You will be faced with a variety of emotional situations if you choose to become a mental health nurse. It’s basically the price you pay for being so loving. But, be aware, the risk for stress and burnout in this specialty is high.
3. It Can be Dangerous
Some patients, depending on their struggles, can be violent and angry. You have to be prepared for this and understand that sometimes you may have physical confrontations with your patients. You’ll be trained for these kinds of encounters, and of course, there is security that is typically always available. However, if the security guards aren’t there, you may have to try to get aggressive situations under control until they arrive, which can be dangerous and scary.
If you are still thinking about working as a mental health nurse, the industry needs people like you! Yet, as we covered already, it is important to understand the demands of the job before jumping in head first. Try volunteering at a facility to get a feel for what the work is like and make your own pros and cons list. Once you dabble in this specialty, you could also become a travel psych nurse and experience all of the benefits of travel nursing.
What inspires you to be a mental health nurse? Share it with us in the comments below!