The U.S. boasts more than 248,000 nurse practitioners (NPs), and 3.8% of them are psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners treating adults and children.* Recent numbers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicate that 1 in 5 American adults experience a mental illness each year, and 4% experience a serious mental illness that inhibits at least one major life activity, such as caring for oneself, working, communicating, hearing, seeing, breathing, and learning among others.†
As mental illness has a proclivity to affect any of us, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners are critical members of our healthcare providers. With a master’s degree in nursing, a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) is able to assess, diagnose, provide therapy, and—in some states—prescribe medications for patients with psychiatric disorders, medical organic brain disorders, and substance abuse problems. All nursing programs aim to prepare practitioners to treat individuals across the lifespan, from children to teenagers to adults.
In addition to mental health clinics, psychiatric facilities, private psychiatric practices, and community mental health centers, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners offer valuable services in a variety of environments. Here are four more places where psychiatric nurse practitioners work:
Becoming a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner requires earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or in some instances, a Doctor of Nursing Practice. In addition to Walden University’s MSN program, there are only a few online MSN programs that offer a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner specialization that allows nurses to continue with their professional and personal responsibilities while earning an advanced degree. As all areas of nursing are facing a shortage, the need for quality mental health care is increasing. A career as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner can really make a difference and help those in need.
*American Association of Nurse Practitioners, NP Fact Sheet, on the internet at www.aanp.org/all-about-nps/np-fact-sheet.
†National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health by the Numbers, on the internet at www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers.
‡L. Schoenly, Mental Health Nursing in the Correctional Setting, Nurse.com, on the internet at www.nurse.com/ce/psychiatric-nursing-in-the-correctional-setting.