Community Mental Health Nurse Job Description, Duties, and Responsibilities
What Does a Community Mental Health Nurse Do?
The community mental health nurse is a professional who works in collaboration with an interdisciplinary clinical team to provide specialized support to families and clients who are experiencing mental health challenges, some of which can include anxiety, depression, personality, and eating disorders, addiction to drugs or alcohol, and host of other mental health challenges.
They practice in a range of behavioral health care settings, including residential and nursing homes, community mental health centers, and detoxification centers; rehabilitation units, special units within prisons, and mental health charities.
Other places they can work include secure hospitals, US Army, NHS, Group homes for individuals with mental retardation or serious mental illnesses, and residential substance abuse treatment programs.
The job description of a community mental health nurse entails utilizing nursing skills and knowledge in applying psychiatric nursing theories and practices in accordance with College of Nurses Standards of Practice.
It also involves developing and maintaining respectful and cooperative working relationships with other professionals to contribute to the integrated, seamless delivery of services to children, families and communities.
Community mental health nurses work to ensure and maintain a safe workplace and to reduce injuries.
They are responsible for ensuring accuracy, confidentiality, and safekeeping of agency records, participating constructively in the supervision process with their immediate manager.
They participate in groups/one-to-one therapy sessions individually or with other health professionals.
Their role also entails providing nursing services to individuals diagnosed with mental illness, alcoholism or substance abuse, mental retardation or developmental disabilities, and their caretakers/families.
They also participate in plans to consider moving individuals to Family Care by ensuring that health needs can be adequately addressed in a particular home – they review the individual’s medication regimen and complete nursing assessment.
The work description of a community mental health nurse also includes providing technical assistance using knowledge and nursing skills to enable FC providers, families, and Service Coordinators to access and/or provide appropriate medical care, obtain equipment, etc. in the community.
They assist team members in clarifying medical procedures and preventive health care; and assisting with obtaining appropriate measures for an individual in crisis and emergency situations.
The duties they perform also include assisting in obtaining consents from family members and through the Court Consent procedure when necessary.
They also visit the individual’s home to identify factors in his/her immediate environment (social, psychological, and physical) which may contribute to his/her health challenge.
They intervene in crisis situation and administer emergency treatment, and recommend continuing care where applicable; suggest alternative treatment plans and teach caretakers/family methods of dealing with emergencies.
They also intervene in complex issues such as self‐harm, refusal to take treatment, and violent behavior.
Mental health nurses also play a key role in helping clients and parents’ access services from relevant organizations such as family health and addictions agencies.
They render medical consultation to educators regarding issues such as medication management for individual clients, particularly those with complex medical conditions concurrent with mental illness or addictions, as well as advice educators on potential side-effects of different classes of medications.
They act as a spokesperson as required to ensure positive public relations and effective co-ordination of services through ongoing liaison and participation in internal and external committees.
They also participate in establishing, maintaining, and monitoring standards for the case management.
Community mental health nurses are also responsible for building capacity within the community as a “Train the Trainer” for community based programs.
To work in the position of a mental health nurse requires a minimum of Associate degree in Nursing, clinical experience, professional certification, and a registered nurse license.
Community mental health nurses require some soft skills to be successful on the job. They need to have strong communication, motivational, and stress management skills; interpersonal, coaching, observation, and follow-up skills; as well as the ability to work in a team environment.
Community Mental Health Nurse Job Description Example/Sample/Template
The community mental health nurse performs various functions to help individuals recover from mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, isolation, and serious persistent mental illness.
The major tasks, duties, and responsibilities performed by a community mental health nurse are listed in the job description example below:
- Administer medications, document response, maintain accurate medication lists, and document and report medication errors
- Utilize a motivational approach to engage individuals in treatment consistent with their stage of change and develop therapeutic relationships with individuals that respect boundaries
- Assess the individual’s medical and nursing needs and make recommendations for an individual-centered service plan
- Provide education regarding mental illness, physical health concerns, chronic disease management, wellness, relapse prevention and medications to patients, families, care givers and team members
- Advocate for individuals to assure implementation of appropriate interventions; assure protection of rights and privacy, and assure that individuals understand the complaint and grievance procedures
- Refer and connect individuals with medical, psychiatric, and other healthcare providers relevant to managing their case
- Coordinate with pharmacies to ensure timely delivery of appropriate medications
- Evaluate the effectiveness of all medical and psychiatric services and provide additional coordination, advocacy, or intervention when necessary
- Talk to patients about their problems and discuss the best strategy to deliver their care
- Develop rapport with patients to build trust, while listening to and interpreting their needs and concerns correctly
- Empathize with distressed patients and attempt to understand the source of their discomfort
- Help patients manage their emotions through the application of de-escalation techniques
- Provide evidence-based individualized therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy for depression and anxiety
- Liaise with mental health agencies, social workers, and primary care practitioners as needed
- Organize social events aimed at developing patients’ social skills and help reduce their feelings of isolation
- Ensure that the legal requirements appropriate to a particular setting or group of patients are observed and adhered to
- Maintain medication inventory, review patient care plans, and monitor progress
- Help patients and their families in combating stigma associated with mental illness
- Render advice and arrange support for patients, relatives, and care givers
- Assess treatment success at case conferences and meetings
- Prepare and update patient records
- Encourage patients to take part in therapeutic activities, including art and role play
- Assess and plan nursing care requirements
- Visit patients in their home to monitor progress and perform risk assessments with regards to their safety and welfare, and identify when patients are at risk of harming themselves or others.
Community Mental Health Nurse Requirements – Skills, Abilities, and Knowledge for Success on the Job
When hiring for the position of community mental health nurse, employers or recruiters will generally require you to possess certain relevant skills, qualities, education, experience, etc. to assure them that you will be effective in performing the objectives, purpose, obligations, and responsibilities of the job.
Highlighted below are common requirements you may be asked to meet if you are seeking the role of a community mental health nurse:
- Education: They require a minimum of 30 college credits in these areas: nursing, health care administration, public administration in a health care area, public health, community mental health, community mental health counseling, psychology, sociology, biology, social work or human services, plus an Associate’s degree in nursing or the completion of a three-year nursing program or Bachelor’s or higher degree in the areas stated above
- Experience: Both educational backgrounds above require professional 2-3 years clinical nursing experience, including at least 1 year experience in providing direct services to individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities, mental illness, mental retardation, substance or alcohol abuse in a community setting. However, a Master’s degree in community mental health may be substituted for this experience.
- License: They must be licensed and currently registered to practice nursing in the United States
- Certification: a Case Management Certificate and/or Mental Health related training will be considered an asset. They must also possess a valid Standard First Aid/CPR Certificate
- Observational skills: They require excellent observational skills to assess patients and look out for signs of tension, anxiety, depression, and any other self destructive tendencies
- Physical dexterity: They require strength, stamina, and physical fitness particularly if working in a hospital or secure residential unit. It is essential when faced with the challenge of calming a violent patient
- Communication skills: They are required to educate, motivate, and advocate for their patients, as well as document a progress report on them; hence they need a clear and concise writing skill and excellent verbal communication skills to be successful on the job
- Emotional resilience: This is required for them to manage stress and stay on top of challenging circumstances in a calm and professional manner
- Decision making skills: Community mental health nurses work with a multi-disciplinary team to deliver a coordinated patient care. Having sound decision making skill is important for them to be able to make sound judgment when referring their patients to other services or to connect with other health care professionals
- Advocacy Skill: Their job requirement makes them to act as a voice for helpless people. They require this skill to help others overcome social stigma related to mental health
- Coaching and motivational skills: They require this skill to access their patients and bring hope to them. It is also essential for them to encourage the family and care-givers of their patients
- Collaborative skills: Their job requires them to work with other healthcare practitioners; therefore, they must be able to work well within a multi-disciplinary team environment to provide well coordinated patient care.
If you are an HR manager or recruiter in the process of hiring for the position of community mental health nurse, this post provides you a sample job description that you can apply to create the perfect description of the role in your organization.
You will also find this article helpful if you are an individual interested in the community mental health nurse career to learn about the duties and responsibilities of the job, as well as what you need to achieve success in your career.
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