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About Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing

“Every day that you bring your skills, your knowledge, your empathy, and an open mind, you will make a difference in a patient’s life.”
– Kristen Kichefski, MSN, MBA, RN-BC

Psychiatric-Mental Health (PMH) registered nurses (RN) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) represent the second largest group of behavioral health professionals in the U.S. They work in a variety of settings and provide comprehensive care to individuals, families, groups, and communities. PMH nurses form strong therapeutic relationships with individuals across the lifespan – becoming familiar with their stories and challenges – to transform lives in a positive way.

Psychiatric-mental health nursing requires a wide range of nursing, psychosocial, and neurobiological expertise. PMH nurses promote well-being through prevention and education, in addition to the assessment, diagnosis, care, and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.

PMH Registered Nurses (RN) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) are well-educated and practice according to high quality licensing and credentialing standards. They enjoy strong compensation and career flexibility due to high demand for their services.

What PMH RNs & APRNs Do

Nurses in psychiatric-mental health:
  • Partner with individuals to achieve their recovery goals
  • Provide health promotion and maintenance
  • Conduct intake screening, evaluation, and triage
  • Provide Case management
  • Teach self-care activities
  • Administer and monitor psychobiological treatment regimens
  • Practice crisis intervention and stabilization
  • Engage in psychiatric rehabilitation and intervention
  • Educate patients, families, and communities
  • Coordinate care
  • Work within interdisciplinary teams
PMH advanced practice nurses also*:
  • Provide individual, group, couples, and/or family psychotherapy
  • Prescribe medication for acute and chronic illnesses
  • Conduct comprehensive assessments
  • Provide clinical supervision
  • Diagnose, treat, and manage chronic or acute illness
  • Provide integrative therapy interventions
  • Order, perform, and interpret lab tests and other diagnostic studies
  • Provide preventative care including screening and immunizations
  • Develop policies for programs and systems
  • Make referrals for health problems outside your scope of practice
  • Perform procedures

At The Forefront of Mental Health Care

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses promote mental health in a variety of ways, including:
  • Helping children exposed to traumatic and adverse events.
  • Working with soldiers returning from combat operations.
  • Helping older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.
  • Supporting teens and adults living with serious mental illness.
  • Treating and counseling those working to recover from opioid, alcohol, and other substance use disorders.
  • Creating and researching new interventions for persons experiencing suicidal thoughts

Psychiatric-Mental Health Advanced Practice Nurses

PMH-APRNs are licensed as Nurse Practitioners (NP) or Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs). They provide the full range of psychiatric-mental health care across the lifespan and can prescribe and administer psychotherapy. PMH-APRNs work in urban and rural settings across the country, such as private practices, hospitals, community mental health centers, primary care offices, state and federal facilities.

PMH-APRNs make a proven difference in mental health and wellness with:

  • Excellent patient outcomes
  • High consumer satisfaction
  • Cost-effective care


Find out more about how you can become a PMH-APRN and what the role entails: Learn about PMH-APRNs


What Makes a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse?

Being a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse requires compassion, sensitivity, and exceptional communication and relationship-building skills. It requires someone who can see the human being in everyone and know that a person isn’t defined by their mental health condition.

Those who are passionate about working in behavioral science or nursing and find inspiration in helping patients access healing and recovery will thrive in a psychiatric-mental health nursing career.

Learn more about how to become a psychiatric-mental health nurse