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Mental health nurses are employed to care for people who suffer from mental health problems and will work in a wide variety of settings; at patients’ homes, in hospitals, in care homes, or in more secure residential facilities. Their primary responsibility is to help patients either overcome or come to terms with their specific mental health issues.
The umbrella of mental health issues covers a wide range of conditions and disorders; some temporary, others permanent. These could include personality disorders, post-traumatic stress, neuroses, psychoses, lifestyle troubles such as eating and sleeping disorders, addiction or anxiety, amongst other conditions.
Work activities will depend on the severity of the patient’s condition. Sometimes, nurses will adopt a counselling role and simply talk with patients in order to identify the roots of their problems and work out the best course of treatment. Other nurses will be responsible for administering medication and a variety of different treatments.
Mental health nurses work closely with other people and professionals close to the patient. This could involve talking to members of the patient’s family or liaising with social workers, psychiatrists and general practitioners – the people who are familiar with the psychological and medical history of the patient. They may also organise and assist with therapy sessions, either in groups or on a one to one basis.
In some situations, a mental health nurse might have to diffuse aggressive or violent outbursts from a patient.