There are some advantages gained for Registered Nurses who love working within the mental health field. From being out of the usual healthcare settings such as hospitals and home health care agencies, you can work for various organizations including national psychiatric association, substance abuse programs, mental health agencies as well as providing your services in assisted living facilities. On the other hand, working in this area would make you think twice as dealing with psychiatric clients with mental disorders on a daily basis can be stressful to some nurses. In this article, we will share with you the pros and cons of working as a psychiatric nurse.

Reward of Helping Others

Mental health nurses gain much satisfaction when helping clients to improve their lives. In some of cases, you would need to attend to clients with substance abuse or behavioral disorders who are extremely difficult and can possibly turn violent. This is amongst the biggest challenge in a psych nurse’s career. However, with the skills and training that you have acquired, you will slowly be able to manage those clients.

Indeed, getting through and helping them to achieve a better quality of life is a great reward for a nurse. Often, you will be their go to person when they are in need for help or support as they will see you as a caring person who will help them through their hard times. At the end of it, you will soon realize the significant role that you play in changing a client’s life for the better.


Currently, the average pay for Registered Nurses is USD 44,767 – USD 78,777per year (PayScale, 2016). Meanwhile, mental health nurse practitioners tend to earn upwards from USD 71,485 – USD 129,837 per year (PayScale, 2016). Generally, the nursing pay in this field increases for the first five up to ten years, however, any additional experience does not have a big effect on pay. Most of nurses will move on to other jobs if they have more than 20 years’ of experience in this field.

Life Lessons

The experiences you have as a psych nurse will teach you valuable life lessons. Each psychiatric client will have their own history or life stories which relate to their current life episodes. Most psychiatric clients love to share their life experiences and thus talking with someone like you will make them feel better and happier.

In most of Schizophrenia and substance withdrawal cases, you would be able to see how family relationship is important in making a client realize their reality of life, and not living in their hallucination and delusion. Without the constant support from their family members, it would be harder for a psychiatric client to improve their condition. Eventually, you will realize that life is too short and fragile and learn to appreciate your life and loved ones more.

Risk of burnout

Like with most jobs, there are some drawbacks to being a psychiatric nurse even though most people employed in this field feel that the benefits outweighs the downside. Working in and surrounded by clients with multiple mental health illnesses is extremely challenging especially for new entry nurses.

You might be exposed to unsanitary conditions, risk of assault and possible irregular schedules are just some of the realities that you have to confront. Plus, a constant exposure to stories of behavioral problems and personal struggles often result in a severe emotional toll on mental health professionals. To avoid this, you must constantly balance your private lives against your career's demands.

Public’s stigma

The public’s perception of mental illness still unchanged. They still see those diagnosed with schizophrenia as a dangerous and unpredictable person, whereas, people with alcohol and drug addictions are being blamed for their faults and addiction. Even though there are many mental health campaigns and programs held to reduce negative perceptions on mental health illness, yet, there is not much effect on the public’s awareness. This, in turn, has indirectly impacted careers in mental health professionals as public opinion seems to remain unchanged across the border.

Fairly enough, some nurses will find it harder to work within this area whilst some who become mental health nurses find their jobs extremely rewarding. Those who enjoy helping people in need and making a profound difference in their lives are good candidates for a career in mental health nursing. So if you are the type of person who enjoys helping others and wants a stable, high paying career, becoming a mental health nurse could just be the right career for you. MIMS

Payscale. (2016). Psychiatric Nurse (RN) Salary. Retrieved from
Payscale. (2016). Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary. Retrieved from

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