Dr Healthy Life

Are you Living a Healthy Lifestyle


Core Competencies Required By Nurses In Mental Health Care

The modern healthcare sector is one that is always advancing in order to not only care for us when physically injured but also educate us on how to live a healthier lifestyle. In addition, alongside treating physical illnesses and injuries, healthcare places look after people’s mental wellbeing and provide effective care for those suffering from mental health issues.

Patient-centered Approaches to Care

One of the most common ways this is delivered is through a patient-centered approach to mental health care. As the name implies, this involves placing patients firmly at the center of any treatment they receive and including them in any decisions that are made regarding their care plan.

It also involves making the needs of the patient the basis of any decisions, rather than the needs of the service. This is a lot different from years ago when patients were seldom included in the care planning process and had limited involvement in their own care.

If you plan to move into mental health nursing as a career choice, it is sensible to learn more about patient-centered care approaches as well as the core competencies that underpin them.

How Do You Learn About The Core Competencies Around Patient-Centered Care?

Although we may be looking at the core competencies required for patient-centered mental health care in particular, all nursing students will learn about the principles of patient-centered care during their training. The competencies that inform the best patient-focused care in mental health are the same as those employed in other nursing niches.

With this in mind, enrolling in an academic program of study dedicated to nursing is a good first step. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s online accelerated BSN program is an especially good option if you are transitioning into nursing and possess a Bachelor’s degree in another field. Their hybrid ABSN program can be completed in as little as 15 months and covers the core competencies nurses require to provide patient-centered care. With a 1:1 student success advisor and clinical placement support, it is the perfect way to become a BSN registered nurse quickly.

Once you have become trained as a registered nurse, you can then go on to specialize in mental health care. The core competencies in this niche that are most useful when delivering care which is focused on the patient include:


Competencies in healthcare refer to a combination of professional skills, attitudes and knowledge which prepare nurses to deliver the best care. Mental health nursing can include a variety of competencies for patient-focused care, but finding ways to communicate more effectively is arguably the most important.

Competency in communication is key because it helps mental health nurses build strong working relationships with those they care for. This in turn enables patients to trust the nurses who care for them and feel as if their views and thoughts are valued.

Being able to communicate well also means mental health nurses can pass on information to patients clearly and inform them about their condition and treatment choices. This is important for enabling patient-centered mental health care and empowering patients.

Risk Management

Safety must always be the most important factor when caring for people with mental health issues. This makes competency around risk management critical for nurses in this niche when adopting a patient-focused care approach.

Although nurses may seek to give patients more input and control in terms of treatment, this must always be done with their safety and the safety of others in mind. For instance, this may mean evaluating a young patient’s request regarding the latest ways to treat teenagers with depression or managing the risk that certain care situations in mental health may present.

While this might be challenging, it is a key competency that is required in this part of the healthcare system.

Administration and Collaboration

Although the above competencies involve how you deliver patient-centered care in mental health directly to the service user, these competencies have a different focus. Possessing appropriate knowledge and skills in administration is crucial because it means any paperwork related to a patient’s care, patient meetings, or their agreed treatment plan is up to date. It also means any notes made on a patient’s condition are up to date for colleagues to refer to when discussing their treatment.

Competency in collaboration is similarly useful and can help to facilitate patient-centered care in the healthcare system. Nurses regularly liaise with a range of colleagues within their facility to pass on a request from a patient about their care or to provide their input during multidisciplinary team meetings regarding an individual’s treatment. They may also need to receive information regarding care from colleagues to pass on or discuss with patients.


We have already noted that communication is a core competency required when providing patient-centered care in mental health care, but competency in professionalism is also a must. This is key because it covers core skills such as listening, which enable you to fully understand a patient’s point of view about their treatment.

The same level of professionalism and engagement applies when treating a patient with mental health issues; it is key to listen to them and show them respect

In addition, competency in professionalism also means you will conduct yourself appropriately when delivering patient-centered mental health care. This involves treating patients with compassion, empathy and dignity at all times. It also means being sensitive to any patient’s culture, lifestyle choices and background when helping to deliver care that is focused on them.

Core Competencies For Mental Health Patient-Focused Care Are Important

The competencies we have discussed above regarding patient-centered care in mental health nursing are crucial because they help to ensure the standards in terms of how patients are treated are upheld. They also clearly show mental health nurses which areas they need to be competent in and which skills are most useful for patient-focused approaches in healthcare. If you are planning on moving into nursing in general and this specialization in particular, it makes sense to not only know about these competencies but also to learn more about them.