How do nurses contribute to psychiatric hospitals?
7 mins read

How do nurses contribute to psychiatric hospitals?

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) provide great physical support for mental healthcare. While they administer medication and conduct therapy sessions, their work aims to achieve a supportive environment to enhance patient health.

This supportive environment is where mental health patients thrive the most. PMHNPs’ understanding and empathy make them feel welcome and at ease (which contributes to faster recovery). This article will explore PMHNP’s contributions to hospitals and why they are essential.

Four roles of PMHNPs in improving patient health at mental health hospitals

Nurses are critical to their patients’ mental health and the hospital environment’s success. Here are four reasons why.

Holistic patient analysis

This task goes beyond identifying a patient’s symptoms. When a new patient is admitted, the bulk of the PMHNP’s work is to conduct psychiatric evaluations for their mental and physical health history. This helps them curate personalized care plans that address their needs.

Online programs such as the MSN-PMHNP program offered by Rockhurst University are designed to equip students with the essential communication skills and knowledge that will aid them in being efficient PMHNPs for their patients. The demand for qualified PMHNPs who can create personalized care plans keeps increasing, so getting certified to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner in Missouri can significantly improve those nurses’ chances of career success. Through continuous learning and further study, nurses can gain clinical experience relevant to their patients’ realities. This is important because patients with psychiatric conditions often have comorbid physical health problems that can complicate their mental health issues.

This further education enables nurses to diagnose complex and interacting conditions. For example, a patient with a severe anxiety disorder might also suffer from hypertension. This physical condition can be worsened by stress and anxiety. Suppose the nurse treats the patient for anxiety disorder without addressing the hypertension. In that case, their overall health may not improve as expected, and untreated hypertension could continue to hinder the patient’s health.

Furthermore, some psychiatric medications have physical side effects (e.g. weight gain), which could potentially increase the risk of hypertension or diabetes. When nurses are aware of these risks, they can monitor patients better and create a plan that touches on these different issues to mitigate side effects.

There are four key steps to this approach:

Gathering comprehensive health information

This includes having detailed information of the patient’s mental, physical, family, and social health histories. Nurses may need to conduct a physical examination and request laboratory tests if necessary. The goal is to understand their current standards of living to know what is wrong and how to improve their well-being.

Identifying co-morbid conditions

Identifying co-morbid conditions helps nurses recognize the signs of psychiatric and physical illnesses to develop an effective treatment plan.

Developing a personalized care plan

Based on the assessment, nurses then devise a plan that meets the mental and physical needs of the patient. This may include psychotropic medications, psychotherapy, lifestyle recommendations, and coordination of care with other healthcare professionals for specific needs.

Monitoring and adjusting the plan

Finally, PMHNPs adjust the plan based on the patient’s response to treatment.

All these phases are important for helping nurses understand everything about the patient so they can craft a working strategy to improve their health.

Medication management

Medication management complements holistic assessments. Specialized nurses prescribe drugs, thus requiring them to have a profound understanding of how drugs work, their side effects, and interactions. The goal of medication management is to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients; it’s about balancing the benefits of negating symptoms against the risks of side effects.

The PMHNP’s role here is to: prescribe correct drugs and adjust patient medication regimens based on their assessment of patient needs.

PMHNP’s extensive training in pharmacology should also help in selecting the most appropriate medication for a patient’s specific condition. For example, a patient with schizophrenia may require adjustments in antipsychotic medication to manage symptoms effectively while minimizing side effects – like sedation or weight gain.

Aside from the practical application, nurses are also in charge of patient education. They teach patients how to take their medications and their potential side effects.


This area of comprehensive mental health care helps nurses oversee the mental and emotional wellbeing of their patients. They address different psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Their ability to provide psychotherapy makes them a critical part of the healthcare system in achieving complete stability for patients.

The role of the PMHNP in psychotherapy

First, nurses are trained to use different psychotherapeutic techniques and design interventions that meet patient needs. This personalized approach ensures that therapy is relevant, effective, and respects patients’ unique experiences and challenges.

Secondly, nurses use evidence-based approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This structured method helps identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to a patient’s mental health problems. Nurses can maximize this to encourage positive behavior and optimism.

Thirdly, nurses help patients develop coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms and improve their daily functioning. For example, a nurse may work with a patient suffering from anxiety to identify triggers and teach relaxation techniques to manage their triggers.

Psychotherapy, in summary, empowers patients and addresses the root cause of their issues.

Patient education

Patient education is the stage where nurses teach patients to manage their mental health effectively. However, this ‘training’ isn’t limited to patients, as their family, friends, or caregivers can also be involved. Educating them about the mental health conditions, treatment options, and coping strategies empower them to participate in the patient’s care and recovery process.

Nurses start by providing comprehensive information about their specific mental health conditions, explaining symptoms, causes, and the typical course of the illness. This knowledge demystifies psychiatric disorders, reduces stigma, and helps others understand the patient’s experience.

Nurses will also teach patients and their loved ones about coping mechanisms. This helps them manage the symptoms of their health issues and improve daily functioning.

Key players within the hospital environment

Psychiatric nurses are sometimes viewed as the lifeblood of the hospital environment. They interact with patients from the start to the end of their care and set the tone for a supportive system throughout their stay. The PMHNP role ensures holistic care and advocacy for patient health, making these nurses an indispensable part of hospital operations and the healthcare environment.