Skip main navigation

Mental health nurse

A mental health nurse or psychiatric nurse is a type of nurse who specialises in identifying and treating people with mental illness.
I work for Leicestershire Partnership Trust in partnership with Leicestershire police. So my role is quite unique, my colleagues are police officers and not nurses. So a little bit like 24 Hours in Police Custody, that’s exactly what it’s like, that’s on the telly. The triage car is where we monitor live police incidents. Any incident where somebody may look as though they might have a mental health problem come in, somebody behaving bizarrely in the street, somebody suicidal. We look at the incident, provide tactical support to officers on scene, and we may go out and assess the person. My role within police custody is identifying people with vulnerabilities.
And that’s not just mental illness, that might be people with drug and alcohol issues, it might be people that are homeless, they might have a whole range of social issues. And it’s trying to stop people reoffending. So is there something I can put in place that will stop that person from being arrested and coming back into custody? I work in the hospitals of Leicester and I lead for old age psych liaison services. So basically, I see and assess patients who present in an acute medical hospital, but with primary or comorbid mental health problems. I currently work in urgent care Mental Health Hub. My job now entails of both clinical and managerial and running the service.
Clinically, I’m an advanced nurse now. So it entails again, looking at– assessing people when they are not well. Assisting sort of junior nurses also, to be able to achieve sort of like assessment levels. Where they can see someone in a crisis and be able to talk to that patient and sort of look at the best treatment plan for that patient. Something on the wards, for example, someone who’s been in hospital for a long time. So you go and talk to them and try and support them. All the way up to people who are coming into A&E in crisis, such as people who’ve self-harmed, tried to commit suicide. No two days are the same, really.
You don’t know what’s going to come in, and that variety just really keeps it, keeps it fresh. You know I can be one day trying to engage with a 10-year-old and the next day coming in a 95-year-old. And they could have completely different things that are going on with them. At times you’d have to just prescribe someone medication and at times it’s just about talking to someone. I’ve seen that a person can come in a crisis, you know, and everything seems bleak and there isn’t anything. But when you sit and talk to someone, at the end of that sort of discussion, you know, the outcome is slightly different. Because talking with someone goes a long, long way.
Assessment, for me, is spending an hour sat down with somebody, talking to them getting to know them, getting to know their history. You have to be a little bit of a detective in the sense that there is an investigation that’s going to give me the answers. I’ve got to find out about them, their history, try and understand them, look at any medical things that might be influenced there, and then put it all together like a jigsaw puzzle to understand the picture.

To find out more about the exciting and varied career of a mental health nurse, watch this short video produced in collaboration with staff at Leicestershire Partnership Trust.

A mental health nurse or psychiatric nurse is a type of nurse who specialises in identifying and treating people with mental illness. They work in a vast array of roles and can be found working in lots of different settings such as out in the community, in hospitals, prisons and schools.

As a mental health nurse, you will be required to build positive relationships with your patients so you can support them with taking their medication, advising them about relevant therapies or encouraging involvement in social activities. You may also be required to carry out assessments, such as home assessments, to make sure their home is safe.


After watching the video, was there anything that surprised you about the role of a mental health nurse? Write your thoughts in the comments area. Remember not to reveal any sensitive information and always follow the FutureLearn Code of Conduct.

Did you know?

Once you have qualified as a mental health nurse, you can take additional training, which allows you to deliver different therapies to patients. For example, many mental health nurses train in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is a type of talk therapy often used to treat depression.

This article is from the free online

Start Your Career as a Healthcare Professional: Online Work Related Learning

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now