Mental health is a big topic right now, and for a good reason, it seems that the healthcare industry is finally waking up to the knowledge that poor mental health is a huge problem in the US today.

Poor mental health contributes to poor overall health, but it’s actually something that will affect your outlook on life, too. If you can’t be happy, how can you be happy with the rest of your life?

If you thought becoming a Nurse Practitioner was hard before, now that mental health is in the spotlight, it’s even more important to choose your specialty wisely.

How do you do that, and what does it mean to be a mental health nurse practitioner? Or even just a mental health nurse in general?

This article aims to answer some of your questions about this profession and your path to becoming a mental health nurse practitioner.

Becoming an MHNP is a lot more than just being an RN. And if you’re looking to become a Nurse Practitioner, not just mental health nurse practitioner, then you need to start looking for the right specialty.

What Is A Mental Health Nurse Practitioner?

A mental health nurse practitioner (or Mental Health Nurse Practitioner for short) is a type of Registered Nurse specializing in caring for and helping with patients’ emotional and mental health. They do this by combining their knowledge and training as nurses with their specialized mental health knowledge.

A mental health nurse practitioner is trained to handle most situations that people with clinical mental health problems might encounter, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia… basically, anything dealing with the mind and how it makes us feel. In addition, they are trained to help patients with their stresses, their relationships, their psychological disorders, and more.

What Does A Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Do?

Like any other type of nurse practitioner, a mental health nurse practitioner can do pretty much anything. They have similar jobs to a regular nurse while also doing the jobs of a psychologist or psychiatrist in some cases. This means they’ll help people manage their medications while also providing therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). They may show patients how to cope with depression by themselves or will make psychotherapy appointments for them.

The biggest difference between a psychiatrist or a psychologist is that mental health nurse practitioners are trained to be able to diagnose and treat diseases. In addition, they are trained in psychotherapy, which means they can help people with their mental illnesses in whatever capacity they may need. While psychiatrists and psychologists can’t prescribe medication, for example, they can refer patients to other doctors. The biggest difference between the two is that psychiatrists and psychologists are not nurses by trade, while Mental Health Nurse Practitioners are.

Nurse Practitioner Education

A lot of people don’t realize that mental health nurse practitioners are not only nurses by trade, but they are also required to have a license to practice their profession.

To get your license to practice as a mental health nurse practitioner, you must complete an education program, which can be done either on the job or online. You’ll be trained on the symptoms of all different types of mental illnesses, how they are treated, and how you can help people who are experiencing symptoms.

Getting Into A Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Degree Program

There are quite a few different ways that you can go about getting into a mental health nursing degree program at your local college or university level. Your options include:

Enrolling in a traditional 4-year college and majoring in a nursing degree. Enrolling in a 4-year college and majoring in a mental health degree. Enroll in an online college or university that offers an online Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing or Mental Health Nursing.

If you decide to enroll in a traditional 4-year college, then you’re going to need to get into the pre-requisite courses for your nursing degree pretty much straight away. This will mean taking some pre-requisites like chemistry, biology, algebra, and English classes. You’ll also need to take NCLEX exam prep classes before you can even start your nursing program.

How Do Mental Health Issues Affect Population Health?

Mental health issues are one of the biggest contributors to overall health problems among adults in the United States, especially for other countries.

Some studies state that mental illness is the cause of nearly 200 million workdays lost in a year due to common mental disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), stress-related illnesses like ulcers, and sleeplessness, developmental disabilities like autism and intellectual disabilities.

You can see that mental health issues are pretty bad for our overall health.

Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Jobs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are roughly 2,986,500 registered nurses currently employed. Of those registered nurses, many work in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, with a smaller percentage working in general medical and surgical hospitals.

The biggest demand for nurse practitioners will be in primary care settings, with job growth driven by the rising number of patients with chronic diseases and a growing and aging population. In addition, more patients will require more health care services over time, which means more jobs for nurse practitioners.

Nurse roles are also diversifying, meaning that there will be more employment growth for nurse practitioners than registered nurses. Nurse practitioners can provide more services than registered nurses, who may only be able to administer injections and intravenous fluids. On the other hand, nurse practitioners can perform physical exams, order lab tests, and diagnostic imaging studies like new mothers’ ultrasounds.

Shining The Spotlight On Mental Health In The Workplace

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), about 16 percent of people in the US will experience a mental health condition at some point during their lives. That’s almost 1 in every 6 people! With almost 1 out of every 6 people experiencing some kind of mental illness, which can lead to lots of problems for businesses.

So how do you move beyond the stigma that’s attached to mental health disorders? How do you normalize conversations about mental illness? The NAMI says it all starts with an open-door policy, which means no matter who it is, you should have an open-door policy where anyone can come in and talk about their mental health issues without being judged or questioned.

Having a strong network of support, having a variety of options for a good work/life balance, and being able to have a positive attitude about your work can help people deal with the symptoms of their mental health conditions. This is especially important if they have an employee assistance program in place at their company.

Focus On Work-Life Balance In The Workplace

Work-life balance is extremely important when it comes to preventing mental health issues from arising in the workplace. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that when you create an environment that promotes work-life balance, your employees will be more likely to stay at your company longer because they won’t feel completely stressed out by their job.

Additionally, recent studies found that employees who work very long hours are more likely to suffer mental health issues at the same rate as those who work shorter hours.

If your employees feel like they can’t take time away to unwind and relax between workdays because they’re distracted by their own jobs, they’ll be less able to escape their stressful situations and deal with mental health symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

One of the most important things that employers can do to create a work environment where employees aren’t stressed out is to provide them with job-protected sick days.


Mental health issues can affect a person’s ability to do their job. Therefore, employers need to be aware of mental health conditions’ symptoms and provide support and training for those affected.

When it comes to mental health training within the healthcare sector, health care providers understand the importance of mental health issues; they know that these conditions can greatly affect the quality of life of their patients. They also know that if they don’t receive mental health training, it will affect how they deliver care to their patients.


Lawmakers are starting to take notice of the importance of mental health training for health care providers; lawmakers are starting to draft bills that would require greater attention towards this topic. In addition, it is important that employers provide resources and training for their employees because it will help them meet their healthcare goals.


The best way to know what your company needs is to have an open conversation with your employer about what goals you have for your career in healthcare. This will help you identify the training needs of your employer and how you can best assist them in reaching those goals.