Holistic practices as psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner

Nursing is a rewarding vocation for those who care about their fellow human beings and have a desire to make a difference in people’s lives. Being a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) is often challenging, but with the correct education and plenty of innovation, the rewards are many. 

Psychiatric mental healthcare is not just about counseling and medication. PMHNPs look to other, more holistic methods of treatment for their patients, and there are many tried-and-tested options that nurses today employ to ensure the well-being of their patients. We discuss some of these methods here.

Encouraging mental health patients to help themselves

There are many alternate interventions that can help patients cope with their mental health issues, equip them with specialized knowledge to manage their condition, and hopefully prevent a relapse in the future. At the top of the list is probably teaching patients how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, take time out to nurture their important relationships, and care for themselves.


Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on our current state of mind and surroundings without being too judgmental. It’s about making a conscious effort to forget the problems of the past and put our worries about the future on hold as we concentrate on the present.

By teaching patients to meditate, NPs empower them to relax and channel their thoughts, creating awareness, not only of themselves and their well-being, but that of other people too. Mindfulness fosters feelings of caring and kindness and helps patients by taking their minds off their troubles and creating a more positive attitude toward solving their problems and helping others.

In time and with mindfulness practice, people become more aware of their circumstances and more grateful for what they have and what they can do to help themselves. 

Exercise and stress management

It’s a well-known fact that exercise improves our overall well-being, both physically and mentally. Exercise increases the production of feel-good endorphins, strengthens muscles and organs, and relieves tension.

Some forms of exercise take our minds off our worries as they force us to focus intently on what we are doing. Other forms of exercise, such as hiking or walking, give us time to think about a particular problem that is uppermost in our minds, and spending time away from stressful situations enables us to think more clearly, often coming up with a workaround or solution to the problem. 

Counselors encourage patients to exercise regularly. Some patients may need to start off slowly and increase the time and intensity gradually; whatever the routine is, it is important to make a start. PMHNPs can organize regular fitness classes, depending on their work setting, or, if that’s not possible, start their counseling session with some deep breathing exercises for relaxation. By encouraging patients to exercise regularly and raising awareness of how they feel afterward, enquiring whether they have noticed any improvement in their frame of mind and whether they feel more motivated towards taking part in other activities, the mental health NP can speed up the healing process and help patients manage their symptoms more efficiently. 

Educating patients and communities

One of the functions performed by nurse practitioners is that of educating their patients. This may include the importance of taking medication, the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, and teaching patients how to prevent a recurrence of their particular health condition in the future.

NPs may print and distribute information booklets or send out weekly emails containing tips on how to cope and how to improve their lifestyles. Placing colorful posters in community centers and clinic waiting rooms is a good way to educate people on the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. Posters and booklets may also list the effects of alcohol and drugs on our bodies and advertise support numbers for people to seek help with their problems. 

Support networks

An important part of mental healing involves the support of family and close friends. It is important to enlist the support of family and friends when it comes to caring for loved ones who are suffering from mental health or behavioral issues. When organizing support for their patients, NPs make sure that the people who are offering their support understand the nature of the problem and how to care for the patient, both on an emotional and physical basis.

If family support is not readily available, there are many organizations that play a supportive role in these circumstances. NPs can refer their patients to a suitable organization for help in the form of counseling, or material support such as food and housing assistance.

NPs in specific mental healthcare facilities can arrange group sessions for patients with similar problems. Being part of a group helps patients realize that they are not alone and that other people share similar problems. They are more likely to build confidence in this setting and form friendships as they identify with people in similar situations.

Resilience building

Building resilience means different things to different people, but it comes back to having a good support system and nurturing a healthy lifestyle. 

Nurse practitioners build up confidence levels in their patients and teach them coping skills. By teaching patients to overcome their problems one small step at a time, they are giving them confidence to tackle the next step. As they progress, they become stronger and more resilient, and the chance of having a relapse lessens with each small victory.

Psychiatric mental healthcare as a profession

If you are a registered nurse with a special interest in mental healthcare, you may want to consider obtaining a specialization in this field. Click here to find out how to become a psychiatric mental healthcare NP with Rockhurst University. By studying at Rockhurst University, you can learn all you need to know about psychological and psychiatric conditions and how social, political, economic, and cultural influences affect our lives. You will also gain confidence as you receive advanced training in pharmaceuticals and learn how to diagnose and treat patients with mental health disorders. 


Mental health patients who have been in the special care of a PMHNP are likely to be more relaxed and healthier. Through treatment, they become more socially adept and learn to care for themselves to a large extent.

From the PMHNP’s perspective, the more diverse the methods of treatment, the more the practitioner is likely to enjoy the job. There is an enormous amount of satisfaction to be gained from teaching patients coping skills and watching their progress as they put these skills into practice. It’s often a challenging job, but one that offers many rewards. 

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