Characteristics of a Successful Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric Mental Health

As more people are starting to take their mental health more seriously, an increasing demand for trained healthcare professionals is developing. Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) are a unique and significant group. They play a crucial role in our healthcare system as they provide specialized assistance to individuals having issues with their mental health. 

Statistical data indicates a current workforce of more than 27,000 mental health nurses in the United States, with projections indicating a forthcoming increase in this figure in the years ahead. So, if you’re planning to specialize as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, let’s explore the characteristics that make a successful one.

Considering this demand, career prospects for PMHNPs are excellent, as are salaries. How much does a psych NP can make? Over $120,000 annually, making it both a personally and financially worthwhile career. For those who wish to help people with their mental health struggles, a career as a PMHNP can be an excellent choice. If you possess some of the characteristics below and wish to embark on a career as a PMHNP, a high-level qualification, such as Rockhurst University’s online MSN-PMHNP, can be of great benefit. The online and flexible nature of the master’s program at Rockhurst gives you the opportunity to gain the qualifications you need while maintaining your professional and personal lives. 


Just like it is for other nursing roles, empathy is a prerequisite for success as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. This quality enables PMHNPs to comprehend and understand the emotional and mental suffering of their patients. To improve communication and provide their patients with a sense of support and caring, nurses should make an effort to comprehend and empathize with their feelings. 

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Good communications skills

This entails actively and sympathetically listening to patients’ problems in addition to communicating. PMHNPs need to be highly skilled at interacting with patients on a personal level. They must actively listen to patients, pose open-ended questions, and establish a secure, accepting environment in which they can discuss their mental health issues. It is worth noting that clear communication also helps PMHNPs with diagnosis and provides available treatments. 

Likewise, A psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner’s job is to make difficult-to-understand diagnoses, treatment alternatives, and therapy approaches understandable to patients and their families. They ought to welcome inquiries and give patient-centered responses. Moreover, communication extends to collaboration with other healthcare professionals, making sure they understand the needs of patients. This enables an easy treatment process for such patients. 


Resilience is a crucial trait for mental health nurses, given the emotional and challenging nature of mental healthcare. It involves the capacity to bounce back from adversity and maintain well-being in the face of stress. PMHNPs encounter complex and sometimes distressing situations regularly. They must remain composed and focused, adapting to unforeseen challenges. Resilience enables them to provide consistent care and support to patients, even when progress is slow or setbacks occur.

Self-care is essential for PMHNPs, and resilience plays a role here, too. It helps them manage the emotional toll of their work, preventing burnout and ensuring long-term effectiveness. Moreover, resilience is intertwined with patient care. PMHNPs must instill hope and optimism in their patients, helping them believe in their capacity for recovery. This trait empowers patients to overcome obstacles and persist in their mental health journey.

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People with mental health issues often need ongoing help from professionals, even if their problems start suddenly. A good psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner is patient and knows that getting better can take time. Recovery is different for everyone. Each patient or case has their schedule, and a PMHNP needs to be able to handle that. Also, the goals and steps to get better should be based on what’s right for each person and should consider their past and where they’re starting from.


Dealing with mental health issues can be sensitive. It’s not like fixing a broken bone where you can see clear progress. You can’t watch someone’s mind recover from something like substance abuse in the same way you see a wound heal. In mental health, the signs of progress often involve changes in behavior or how a person feels, such as being less anxious or sad. As a PMHNP, it’s important to act as a cheerleader for your patients. You should help them see and appreciate the progress they’re making, even if it’s subtle, and they can’t see it themselves. 


Patients often seek help and access treatment via a number of different paths. It could be because of a doctor referral or that family and friends noticed changes in their behavior. Sometimes, a person might need urgent mental health care and end up in the hospital. No matter how they get there, a PMHNP needs to work closely with other healthcare practitioners to understand the situation.

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This means teaming up with other nurses, doctors, specialists, family members, and friends to get the full picture. PMHNPs often collaborate with psychologists, psychiatrists, case managers, social workers, and caregivers to create and adjust treatment plans. 

Patient advocacy

Patient advocacy is a fundamental responsibility of successful psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. It involves actively standing up for a patient’s mental health needs and rights within the healthcare system. PMHNPs act as strong advocates for their patients, ensuring they have access to necessary resources and appropriate care. This may involve helping patients navigate the healthcare system, advocating for insurance coverage for mental health services, or connecting them with community resources and support groups.

For example, if a patient faces barriers in accessing therapy due to financial constraints, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner might work to find affordable alternatives or connect them with financial assistance programs. Advocacy also extends to ensuring that patients receive fair and ethical treatment throughout their care journey, regardless of their background.


The characteristics of a successful psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner extend far beyond clinical expertise alone. While clinical competence is undeniably essential, a successful PMHNP possesses a unique blend of qualities that set them apart in the field of mental healthcare. If helping those with mental health issues appeals to you, get your qualifications and you can soon embark on a rewarding career as a PMHNP.