Mental health and mental disorders were once a taboo topic, but today, mental health issues are discussed openly. Being able to openly discuss mental health as a community issue that goes beyond any one individual is beneficial to all. This also allows Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) to do the job they have trained for in new and exciting ways. Some of the ways that PMHNPs can work with the community to handle common mental health problems properly will be explored in this article.
What is a PMHNP?
A PMHNP is a nurse practitioner who is highly trained in psych-based issues and assessment. A PMHNP can diagnose psychiatric illness, prescribe medication, administer mental health assessments, and design treatment plans. Additionally, a PMHNP can help manage chronic conditions, offer counseling and psychotherapy, and educate the community on common mental health issues.
While this list sounds impressive, what does a PMHNP do to help the community? Click here to learn more at Rockhurst University. With an accredited online Master of Science in Nursing – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MSN-PMHNP) course, Rockhurst University prepares aspiring nurses to practice in community settings as well as hospitals and clinics.
The most common community resources that PMHNPs are trained to provide include, outreach support, mental health talk groups, therapy sessions and other community-based practices. These options can vary depending on the practitioner and the community in which they serve.
As offered by a PMHNP, outreach support can range from working within a psychiatric facility to finding resources for those moving into a community. It may also involve helping a religious worker do outreach with people experiencing homelessness. The type of outreach offered depends on the job title and duties of each PMHNP, as well as the community needs.
For example, a lower-income community with a large homeless population may be best served by a PMHNP that takes to the streets to talk with those who may have mental illness and help them connect with resources. Many homeless individuals, as well as others, are hesitant to seek mental health treatment, so meeting these individuals where they are can be helpful.
This benefits the community by keeping those with mental disorders from causing harm to themselves or others, even if unintentional. The same is true for PMHNPs that work in psychiatric facilities. Those moving from a psych facility back into the real world may struggle to find or access resources, and the PMHNP can help before release.
Mental health talk groups
Next up are mental health talk groups, which a PMHNP may run in many settings. Mental health talk groups, commonly called support groups, are probably the most recognized. While many support groups are volunteer-run, those with a PMHNP are often more structured and treatment-focused. These support groups can be focused on any topic and are often covered by insurance.
Some of the most common are drug rehabilitation groups, eating disorder groups, grief support networks, and even groups focused on dealing with common mental health issues like bipolar, depression, or anxiety. These PMHNP-run groups offer more treatment focus than typical 12-step programs and are often led at a counselor’s office or hospital as part of an overall treatment plan.
PMHNPs are also licensed to run therapy sessions for individuals and groups. Therapy sessions can be highly beneficial for those who have suffered trauma or are learning to deal with a mental issue overall. Therapy may not alleviate all issues, but participants can learn to handle life stressors with tools shared by the PMHNP. This can allow them to integrate into a community more easily over time. This type of therapy is often offered in community centers, hospitals, or counseling-based clinics.
Other community-based practices
Finally, PMHNPs may offer other community-based practices. These may include education, health promotion, and screenings. Education and health promotion often go together. When a PMHNP educates those in the community, it is often about a community health issue. These topics can vary greatly depending on the area. Some may focus on childhood vaccinations, while others focus on sexual health or recognizing mental health disorders, for example.
The goal is to inform people about possible health issues that are problematic or may become problematic. The same is true for screenings. In many areas, people are hesitant to seek preventative healthcare, but by offering community screenings, often free of charge, those in the early stages of certain illnesses can be identified. Screenings also vary but may be used to check for heart health issues, diabetes, vision problems, cancer screenings, or even cholesterol checks.
How do PMHNPs benefit the whole community?
A PMHNP can be highly beneficial to any community. It is a profession that has seen a high percentage of growth in the last 15 years. PMHNPs fill gaps in locations where healthcare may not meet all the needs of a given community, especially when it comes to mental health. It is better for everyone if mental health issues are not only diagnosed but treated. Some feel that PMHNPs are a critical part of the mental health workforce and provide services that may not otherwise be available to the masses. When services are regularly provided, and medication is available to those suffering, everyone sees the benefits.
While therapy and free screenings may sound good for the individual, how is this beneficial to the community as a whole? Any form of mental health help offered to individuals benefits the community because the services help the individual become a productive citizen. Adults and children who are suffering in some form may display problematic behavior if not treated. This behavior affects others within the community, but the damage could be eliminated or lessened dramatically if treated. A PMHNP is often considered more approachable and affordable for these types of services as well. This means that community members are more likely to seek treatment and become healthier. PMHNPs are truly hidden warriors who can change lives.