Mental Health Nurses Day Date in the current year: February 21, 2024

Mental Health Nurses Day Mental Health Nurses Day, also known as National Mental Health Nurses Day, is celebrated annually on February 21. It was created to recognize the amazing work of mental health nurses and to promote working in mental health as a fantastic career choice.

Mental health nursing, also known as psychiatric nursing, is a subspecialty of nursing that deals with mental health. Mental health nurses (MHNs) care for patients experiencing mental illnesses or distress, including, but not limited to, addiction, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, paranoia, personality disorders, psychosis, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

The responsibilities of mental health nurses include case management (tailoring care to the specific needs of a patient), the administration of psychiatric medication (nurse practitioners also can prescribe it), physical care for patients, psychosocial interventions and behavioral therapy to help manage crises and aid recovery, and working with patients who have a dual diagnosis (a mental illness and a comorbid substance use disorder).

In most countries, in order to become a mental health nurse one has to complete a certified nursing program to become a registered nurse, and specialize in mental health. Mental health nurses receive specific training in areas such as dealing with challenging behavior, psychotherapy, building a positive partnership with patients called a therapeutic alliance, and administering psychiatric medication.

Caring for patients dealing with mental illnesses or distress requires more than just professional education though; a good mental health nurse should have specific personal qualities such as understanding, empathy, compassion, respectfulness, and self-awareness. Mental health nurses should be genuine and approachable in order to make patients feel more comfortable and build a positive therapeutic relationship, but at the same time they need to be able to set clear boundaries to protect their patients and prevent burnout.

Mental health nurses do a very important job, yet they don’t always get enough recognition. Mental Health Nurses Day was launched in the United Kingdom in 2019 to rectify this. It was a joint initiative of a group of mental health nurses from all over the country. Several years later, Canada joined the celebration: February 21, 2024 was the first federally recognized National Mental Health Nurses Day in Canada. It was organized and promoted by the Canadian Federation of Mental Health Nurses.

The main goals of Mental Health Nurses Day are to celebrate this remarkable and impactful field of nursing, recognize the hard work of mental health nurses, and encourage people thinking about a career in healthcare to consider working in mental health. Mental health nurses, their employers, professional organizations, associations and unions, educators, and other stakeholders are welcome to organize events celebrating mental health nursing and spread the word on social media with the hashtags #MHNursesDay and #MentalHealthNursesDay.

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Mental Health Nurses Day, National Mental Health Nurses Day, professional days, observances in Canada, observances in the UK