How Much Do Mental Health Nurses Earn?

If you'd like a career that pays well and allows you to help people with mental disabilities, consider becoming a psychiatric-mental health nurse. Earnings for these professionals depend on a variety of factors, including job title, experience, type of facility and geographic location. Read on to learn more about this career and its salary potential. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Salary Overview

PayScale.com reported salary ranges for two types of psychiatric nurses in September 2015. Psychiatric nurses who were registered nurses (RNs) earned a median salary of $56,157. Most of these professionals reported salaries between $44,664 and $78,746.

On the other hand, psychiatric nurses who were nurse practitioners (NPs) earned a median wage of $90,661 in September 2015. Most of these advanced nurses made between $70,154 and $118,093 a year.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Similar Occupations Physician, physician assistant, mental health counselor
Work Environment Hospital, doctor's office
Key Skills Medical knowledge, administer medicine, conduct examinations, operate medical equipment
Licensure Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

Experience

In September 2015, PayScale.com reported that psychiatric RNs with 0-5 years of experience earned a median wage of $55,000, while those with 5-10 years of experience earned a median wage of $61,000. Those with 10-20 years of experience earned a median wage of $63,000, while those with more than 20 years of experience were paid a median wage of $66,000.

At the same time, PayScale.com reported that psychiatric NPs with 0-5 years of experience made a median wage of $90,000, while those with 5-10 years of experience received higher median earnings of $98,000. Psychiatric NPs with 10-20 years of experience made a median wage of $102,000, while those with more than 20 years of experience made a median wage of $103,000.

Employer

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have specific data on psychiatric nurse earnings, it did report average salaries for RNs and NPs working in various industries in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). RNs working in physicians' offices earned $63,800 on average, while NPs made $96,570 on average working in the same type of facility. General hospitals paid RNs $71,640 on average and NPs $102,330 on average.

Location

BLS reported median earnings for psychiatric RNs and NPs working in selected cities in May 2014. Some selected states and median salaries for psychiatric RNs included the following:

  • California: $98,400
  • Florida: $62,270
  • New York: $77,110
  • Texas: $68,590
  • Pennsylvania: $66,5700

Some sample states and median wages for psychiatric NPs included the following:

  • Maine: $94,400
  • Massachusetts: $107,230
  • New York: $104,000
  • Tennessee: $91,950
  • Hawaii: $115,870

Career Overview

Psychiatric-mental health nursing is a specialty field that involves providing care, support and guidance for people with altered mental or emotional states. As a mental health nurse, you would be an important part of a multidisciplinary team responsible for assessing patients' needs and goals for improvement and planning and providing care accordingly. You would perform the same functions as other nurses in terms of caring for the whole patient; however, you also would use therapies and modalities that are effective in assisting patients who have personality or mood disorders and disabilities.

Job Duties

In addition to routine nursing care, basic psychiatric-mental health nurses (PMHNs) are responsible for treatment planning. You might provide daily assessment, observation, and planning for group meetings. Additionally, you might be involved in crisis intervention, education of patients and families, medication administration, and monitoring of psychobiological treatments. Mental health nurses also teach patients about effective coping skills, healthy relationships, and behavioral management. RNs usually are involved in supervisory functions on inpatient units and in clinics.

As an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and PMHN, you might be the facility administrator or program director for an outpatient mental health clinic. Inpatient facilities often use APRN-PMHNs to diagnose and treat mental disorders and substance abuse issues. Some states allow these mental health nurse specialists to act independently as primary care providers, performing medication management, consultation, counseling and treatment on a broad scale to individuals, programs and groups throughout the community.

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