With a global health pandemic prioritizing urgent care, emergency room and critical care nurses have been in high demand. Further, as routine care providers work to reduce waiting room crowds and limit the potential COVID-19 exposure of staff and patients alike, a need for more telehealth nurses has also emerged.
As the pandemic wears on, experts have predicted an increased need for mental health services. Spokespersons from the American Psychological Association (APA) note feelings of grief over lost experiences could contribute to both anxiety and depression. The CNN article in which the APA is quoted goes on to note staying home for this extended period of time could also be looked at as “collective trauma.” While some insurance providers and physicians’ practices have stepped up telehealth services in response, a heightened need for mental health services post-pandemic is widely anticipated.
For nurses, this means increased opportunity to work as a mental health nurse in New York. What does a mental health or psychiatric nurse do? Mental health and psychiatric nurses support patients who are dealing with everything from substance use disorders to mood and/or anxiety disorders. They are actively involved in helping patients understand their illness and make positive strides during treatment. From outpatient care to schools and hospitals, mental health nurses are by their patients’ sides every step of the way.
While becoming a psychiatric mental health nurse requires additional licensing and certifications, as well as a commitment to continuing education requirements, working in this field, allows nurses to meet growing demand at a time when people truly need their support. Of note, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 45% of U.S. adults reported worry and stress over Coronavirus have negatively impacted their mental health. And, the National Council for Behavioral Health reports calls to the federal mental health crisis hotline were up nearly 900% in March 2020 (compared to March 2019).
While mental health conditions will likely rise after COVID-19, similar to how U.S. anxiety rates rose post-9/11, nurses who work in this field have long been a critical resource for patients and their families. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has historically reported that one in five U.S. adults experiences a mental illness during their lifetime.
For nurses who are invested in helping patients make positive lifestyle changes and work diligently to manage their conditions, mental health nursing can be a rewarding career. As a psychiatric mental health nurse, one has the ability to choose among a broad range of work settings – hospitals, schools, physicians’ offices, correctional facilities and more – and work with patients of all ages.