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Herzing Staff

Beyond the Bedside: The Vital Role Nurses Play in Supporting Mental Health

Nurses play a vital role in the nursing assessment, diagnosis and care of those with mental health conditions.

Mental health is an issue that affects communities nationwide. In 2023, a reported 23% of adults are experiencing at least one mental illness. Even more concerning is that the same study indicates that 55% of adults with mental illnesses have not received any treatment. 

This continuing lack of mental health treatment could be a result of multiple factors, including stigma surrounding mental illness, lack of access to mental health services, or lack of awareness of available treatment options. These statistics highlight the urgent need for increased awareness and access to mental health services to help address the mental health needs of individuals across the country.

While mental health is not a new issue, there have been a growing number of conversations surrounding mental health access and care. This is an encouraging trend. However, the issue ultimately remains that there are not currently enough healthcare providers in the United States to meet all the demands for mental healthcare, with the World Health Organization predicting a shortage of 15 million healthcare workers worldwide by 2030. That is unless you and other future professionals step up to directly combat the mental health crisis

If you’re ready to help those struggling with mental health challenges, a career in nursing could be the opportunity you’ve been looking for.

How Nurses Support Mental Health Patients

Nurses play a vital role in the nursing assessment, diagnosis and care of those with mental health conditions. They work alongside other healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to provide holistic care to patients. As a nurse, you’ll also administer and monitor medications, manage patients' symptoms, and provide crisis interventions if necessary. 

Being a nurse means being an advocate for individuals who cannot advocate for themselves, positioning those in need of assistance for a long, healthy and enjoyable life. In addition to providing quality care in the form of assessment, medication and analysis, nurses have the opportunity to provide one of the most impactful aspects of healthcare: emotional support. 

As a nurse, you’ll be a source of emotional support to patients by creating a safe and comfortable environment where patients can express their thoughts and feelings. Through therapeutic communication techniques and active listening, you’ll be able to provide the much-needed empathy and understanding that your patients deserve. 

Mental Health Nursing Specialties

Nursing is a vast and rewarding field, creating opportunities for healthcare workers to pursue specializations that align with their interests and talents. For those who are looking to work closely with mental health patients, consider exploring the following specializations:

  • Addiction Nursing: As an addiction nurse, you will work closely with patients who are struggling with substance abuse. You will be responsible for providing education and support to patients and their families, as well as helping patients develop coping skills and strategies for managing their addiction.
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nursing: These nurses work with children and adolescents who have mental health disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression. As a child and adolescent mental health nurse, you will most likely work in schools, hospitals, clinics, or community health centers.
  • Forensic Nursing: Forensic nurses provide care and support to patients who have experienced trauma or abuse, including those who have been victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or child abuse. These nurses can make an important difference in the process of delivering justice for those in need.
  • Geriatric Mental Health Nursing: If you’re looking to work with an older demographic, consider specializing in geriatrics. In this role, you’ll work with older adults in healthcare settings that serve to address mental health challenges.
  • Psychiatric Nursing: Psychiatric nurses provide care and support to patients with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other serious mental illness. They often work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and community health centers.

No matter the path you choose to take, Herzing University offers a variety of nursing programs both online and in-person, to provide you with the education, resources and experiences to support your local communities, especially during mental health crises. Take the first step toward transforming not only your life but the lives of countless others.

Learn More About Our Nursing Programs


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2022 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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