From being a virtually taboo subject, mental health is moving increasingly into the spotlight and its importance in the wellbeing of the nation is now well recognised. It’s estimated that around a quarter of people in the England will experience problems with their mental health each year. Many people and organisations are calling for continued investment in treatments, facilities and professional mental health practitioners.
Registered Mental Health Nurses (RMN) are a critical part of the UK’s healthcare network and account for about 13% of UK nurses. It’s a role that’s full of challenges but also has great rewards. In this article, we’ll look at what the job involves and how you can move into mental health nursing.
What do RMN jobs involve?
As an RMN, it will be your role to treat and support people facing mental health challenges, as a result of organic illness (such as dementia or chemical imbalances) or experiences such as traumatic events. Typical examples of these include schizophrenia, depression, intellectual disabilities and disorders due to drug abuse.
Many people with mental health disorders would have traditionally remained undiagnosed and untreated, but there is now an increasingly wide range of therapies available that can really improve patients’ lives.
RMNs work with patients to help them find ways of coping with their illness, including medications, psychological support and behavioural therapies. The role involves building effective and trusted relationships, not only with patients, but also their relatives and carers.
Physical care is part of the role, but it also involves advising clients on medication to help their condition, as well as recommending physical and mental therapies or social activities. You’ll be trained in the legal context of your work and how to identify if someone is at risk of harming themselves or others.
Working as an RMN means you’ll be dealing with people of all ages and backgrounds, and may mean you face situations that you wouldn’t deal with in general nursing. It’s a real opportunity to make a difference and is a career with excellent employment prospects and a high degree of flexibility.
Where do RMNs work?
Mental Health Nurses work in a wide variety of settings covering both primary and secondary care, including within the community, specialist units and clinics, hospitals, prisons and sometimes with emergency services.
What qualifications do I need to become an RMN?
Typically, you will have completed a university degree course in mental health nursing approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). You could also undertake a degree apprenticeship supported by your employer.
If you are already a registered nurse, you can do an 18-month conversion course to move into mental health nursing.
What career opportunities are available to RMNs?
Many Mental Health Nurses go on to specialise in a particular area of mental health, such as working with children and teenagers or women’s mental health. You could work your way up to Sister, Ward Manager, Matron or Director of Nursing.
With further study and experience, RMNs can become Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANP), Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) or Nurse Consultants, who work directly and independently with patients, carry out research and development, and give training. You could also choose to train in health visiting.
Plus, there are many opportunities for agency work as a Mental Health Nurse, either to pick up extra shifts or as a full-time career. If you’re a registered and experience RMN interested in temporary work, get in touch with MSI’s Mental Health Team and we’ll be able to help you.