Pros and Cons of Mental Health Nursing


At a time when demand for mental healthcare services is high, there is, unfortunately, a shortage of providers available to do the job. The U.S. is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, and current federal healthcare laws are 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. At the same time, the shortage of mental health providers is only expected to grow. 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, according to a recent study. So, if you are someone who feels drawn to helping people who are often stigmatized and ignored in society, working as a psychiatric or mental health nurse could be for you. Still not convinced? If you are considering a career in mental health nursing, here is a pro-con list for you!

Pros of Mental Health Nursing

Helping Others

Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to mental health nursing. You could be caring for people who are suffering from all kinds of emotional and mental issues, from drug addiction to eating disorders to schizophrenia. Yet, they need someone who is kind and caring and attempting to understand their situation. That’s where you come in! It can be rewarding to help others with such personal struggles and to eventually see them heal.

Job Security

We’ve already hinted at this, but since there is a current shortage of mental health workers that will only grow with time – you will have job security if you choose to get into this profession.

Variety of Opportunity

There are many different types of mental health nursing positions, from LPN to RN, and 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 elderly.

Cons of Mental Health Nursing

Lack of Gratitude

You may have very difficult and aggressive patients, and 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 in mental health nursing. Often times, you are there for your patients during some of the most difficult times in their life, but once they move on you may not hear from them again or know for sure how your hard work paid off.

Emotional Stress

Let’s face it. You care about people, so chances are you are going to get emotionally attached to your patients and personally invested in their recovery. You will be faced with a variety of emotional situations if you choose to enter mental health nursing, so the risk for stress and burnout in this specialty is high.

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. Of course, there is security available, but until they arrive you may have to try to get aggressive situations under control.

Now you know the pros and cons of mental health nursing, and that there are lots of jobs available across the country. You could also become a travel psych nurse and experience all of the benefits of travel nursing. If you are still thinking about working as a psych 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 pro-con list.

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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