Nurses are an integral part of any health facility. They are responsible for carrying out the primary health procedures on patients while allowing doctors to focus on heavyweight functions.

If you're considering a career in mental health nursing, otherwise known as psychiatric nursing, you'd be glad to know it's a highly sorted branch of nursing in Nigeria.

People with complex mental health issues need psychiatric nurses to help manage and attenuate their challenges. And that explains why you'll find these types of nurses in adult care homes, psychiatric wards, rehabilitation centres, etc., helping teens, children, and adults alike.

As an aspiring mental health nurse, there are many routes that you can take to become one in Nigeria. We will discuss all that in this article, including tips for practising mental health nursing. Read on below to find out.

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What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Mental Health Nurse?

How to become a mental health nurse in Nigeria
Mental health nurses are tasked with the emotional and physical needs of patients.
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Psychiatric/mental health nurses are detail-oriented professionals who must be able to manage complex mental health conditions in patients. One key area of their job that you must consider is the ability to manage your emotional response and remain calm in stressful situations that involve escalating patients.

Mental health nurses must also be open to learning whilst being receptive to all patients, regardless of their backgrounds, societal status, or religion. While the job of a psychiatric nurse may vary, depending on the facility where they work, you can expect to do the following while working as a mental health nurse:

  • Providing closely-monitored care to patients with mild, acute, or severe mental conditions
  • Administering medications and treatments based on a patient's needs whilst monitoring the results as time goes by
  • Building relationships with patients in care and actively responding to their emotional and physical needs, whilst providing effective care accordingly
  • Dealing with and remaining calm under tense situations by escalating patients
  • Reading and dealing with all symptoms of mental health
  • Recording and managing patients' data for the facility where they work
  • Helping patients overcome challenges as they witness changes in their body under care
  • Interacting with and providing progress reports to the family of an in-care patient
  • Working collaboratively with other care staff of a patient to provide actionable information and advice based on their condition and responsiveness to treatment
  • Coming up with risk assessments and care plans for patients under care and then presenting them to their designated psychiatrists
  • Organizing social events and creating group therapy sessions for patients with special needs
  • Collecting and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Assessing patients' statuses and making referrals as appropriate

As you can see from the responsibilities listed above, psychiatric nurses have their hands full most of the time. It would help if you had the dedication and genuine commitment to see everything through. However, there's nothing more elating than seeing all that work pay off on your patients as their health improve.

Where Can a Mental Health Nurse Work?

If you're wondering where you can apply your skills as a psychiatric nurse, you'd be glad to learn that there are many options for you in Nigeria. As expected, you won't find psychiatric nurses in some hospitals, as those are not where their skills are needed.

Mental health nurses can work in general government hospitals, as well as the following healthcare facilities:

  • Military clinics and hospitals
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Private homes for elderly persons
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing schools
  • Teaching hospitals
  • Community mental health clinics
  • Private clinics
  • Government hospitals

You can never run out of options as a psychiatric nurse in Nigeria, as there are many places to apply your skills and attain career growth. In addition, you can choose to have private clients you provide in-house care for in Nigeria. You can provide your services to them at an agreed rate.

However, you cannot take private jobs as a psychiatric nurse working full-time in a government facility. It's against the law. Also, most private health clinics frown against the idea of their workers taking personal jobs elsewhere, so you might want to put this into consideration as well.

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How Much Does a Mental Health Nurse Earn in Nigeria?

The median salary of a mental health nurse in Nigeria is ₦267,000, according to the website SalaryExplorer. Of course, this depends on many factors, especially experience level. Other factors put into consideration are the location of the practice and the facility.

Before you get your hopes too high up, keep in mind that nurses with less than two years of experience take home ₦125,000 per month on average, with those with RN/RM qualifications earning less than that. However, there's always room for growth as you can scale that salary.

Nursing is done for passion as much as the money because it's essential to have a secure, satisfying, and rewarding job. You'll get all that with mental health nursing, certainly.

Steps to Take to Become a Mental Health Nurse in Nigeria

How to become a psychiatric nurse
Mental health nurses will learn everything concerning the human psych while in training.
Image Credit: Unsplash

Now that we have discussed the basics for intending psychiatric nurses, it's time to explore the options available for you to become one. Thankfully, you have different viable options to choose from, with your choice determining how much career growth you can achieve while practicing.

Without further ado, the following steps will get you up and running:

Acquire a Nursing Degree

Many licensed nurses in Nigeria started by taking this route. A nursing degree in Nigeria takes five years to complete, and students can take distinct courses, depending on which area of nursing they want to branch to.

Attend a Designated Psychiatric Nursing Institution

There are designated psychiatric/mental health Institutions across Nigeria, each of which offers a different levels of qualification. For instance, the Oyo State College of Nursing and Midwifery, Ibadan, offers an Advanced Diploma in Mental Health Nursing.

Also, there is the Niger Delta University, which has a department of Mental Health Nursing at BNSC, PGD, and MSC levels. The School of Psychiatric Nursing, FNPH is also available at the heart of Benin City for intending medical health nurses to attend.

Of course, these are only a few out of the many psychiatric institutions across the country. You can research for more institutions in Nigeria with a designated Mental Health or Psychiatric Nursing course.

Acquire a Licence

If you obtain a degree in Nursing, your school of study may help you procure your license alongside that of your mates from the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).

Some schools will leave the task of doing that to you, in which case all you need to do is visit the council's website and check out the requirements for obtaining their license.

Essential Skills to Have as a Mental Health Nurse

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To become a mental health nurse means you'll care for patients in the Psychiatric clinic.
Image Credit: Unsplash.

Working as a psychiatric nurse relies on your ability to understand and handle specific emotional and mental needs, which is why professionals in this field are required to hone some skills while learning and practicing.

Mastering these skills will make them more marketable for the best jobs in psychiatric nursing and even make their daily tasks easier to carry out. Some of the crucial abilities to hone are as follows:

Critical Thinking

Patients will always have different needs, thus necessitating different approaches from the mental health nurses. You need to be able to devise various means to handle a situation and not panic under tense conditions.

Empathy

Although not a skill per se, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others is crucial to have as a mental health nurse. You need to put yourself in your patient's shoes and treat them in the manner you want to be treated.

Reliability

A mental health nurse needs to be reliable to their patients, co-workers, and other care staff. This aids collaboration and makes the overall job of the team easy to carry out.

How to Get Help Outside from a Nursing Educator

While training or studying as a mental health nurse, you can take lessons outside the confines of your institution to accelerate your assimilation and simplify challenging aspects of your discipline. Thankfully, nursing educators in Nigeria can help you attain that.

Some registered nurses who branched into the education sector of the profession offer their services as tutors on Superprof, an online academic hub that connects Nigerian students with tutors.

You can enroll for one-on-one or online lessons under one of them, and the good thing is you can also get career advice and tips that are valuable to your journey in the nursing field.

You can start immediately and get a first-time free lesson, with subsequent ones coming at an agreed fee per hour. Check out nursing tutors on Superprof today.

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Damilola

A seasoned writer with sublime experience in various niches, Damilola is creative in his craft. He's a permanent/guest writer on websites in the heath & fitness, business, tech, pets, and entertainment industries. As a freelance writer with years' experience, he harnesses his expertise well, breaking down information in the simplest terms for common readers.