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Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing

27.6 Objectives for the Future

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing27.6 Objectives for the Future

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Discuss consensus studies for PMH nursing’s future
  • Identify inclusive strategies for nursing education
  • Create a personal future career/service plan

Nurses have a unique opportunity to influence health equity among the clients they support. They can help ensure nursing education uses inclusive strategies for training future nurses, and they can incorporate the components of the consensus studies and create their own service plan to ensure the best possible outcomes for their clients.

Consensus Studies on the Future of Nursing in PMH

The Future of Nursing 2020–2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2021) is a report that outlines a vision for the nursing profession and its role in advancing health equity over the next decade. The report emphasizes the importance of nurses in addressing health disparities and improving health-care access for underserved populations. It calls for nurses to be leaders, advocates, and collaborators in health-care delivery, policy development, and education. Key themes include promoting diversity and inclusion within the nursing workforce, advancing nursing education and practice, and enhancing the role of nurses in health-care leadership. The report underscores the critical role nurses play in achieving health equity and recommends actions to empower and support nurses in this mission.

The American Academy of Nursing (AAN) is dedicated to promoting organizational excellence, nursing leadership, and evidence-based policy. To enhance nurse well-being, in 2023 the organization released American Academy of Nursing Consensus Recommendations to Advance System Level Change for Nurse Well-being. This paper recommends actions by key organizations to drive systemic changes in workplace safety, increase professional mobility, and advocate for policies that improve access to health-care resources. These recommendations stem from the expertise of AAN’s Expert Panels on Building Health Care System Excellence, Psychiatric Mental Health and Substance Use, and Global Health. Achieving transformative improvements in health-care work environments and advancing nurse well-being and equity will require innovative policy changes and collaborative efforts involving associations, organizations, nonprofits, the public, and the media within government and health-care sectors.

Determinants of Mental Health

The determinants of mental health are integral to the objectives for the future of mental health nursing. For instance, mental health nurses could actively engage in addressing the social determinant of access to stable housing. In practical terms, this might involve collaborating with community organizations to provide housing support and advocating for affordable housing initiatives to reduce homelessness, a factor closely linked to mental health challenges. Furthermore, mental health nurses can work toward improving educational opportunities, recognizing that a lack of education can be a barrier to both employment and mental health. They may collaborate with schools and provide support to at-risk youth to ensure access to education and enhance resilience against mental health issues.

Another key focus of mental health nursing objectives is the integration of care across the biological, psychological, and social determinants of mental health (Naegle et al., 2023; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2021). For instance, nurses may take a holistic approach in the care of individuals with a family history of mental illness (biological determinant) by providing education on coping strategies and resilience-building techniques (psychological determinant) and connecting them with community resources that offer social support. This personalized care approach aligns with the future objectives, aiming to provide tailored interventions that consider an individual’s unique circumstances, ultimately improving mental health outcomes. By addressing specific determinants with targeted actions and interventions, mental health nurses contribute to a more equitable and comprehensive mental health-care system.

Care Coordination/Changing Populations

Care coordination in nursing is evolving in response to changing populations and health-care landscapes. Salmond and Echevarria (2017) identified a newly expanding role for the registered nurse as coordinator of care. Specific areas of health care to address include improved client satisfaction, improved population health, and reduced health-care costs (Salmond & Echevarria, 2017). Several key trends and developments reflect this evolution:

  • Focus on population health: Nursing care coordination shifted from primarily addressing individual client needs to incorporating a population health approach. Nurses now work to manage the health of entire populations, identifying common health issues and implementing strategies for prevention and early intervention. This approach helps health-care systems manage chronic conditions, reduce hospital readmissions, and promote overall community well-being.
  • Technological advancements: Health-care technology, including electronic health records (EHRs) and telehealth platforms, has transformed care coordination. Nurses use digital tools to access client information, communicate with health-care teams, and remotely monitor clients. Telehealth, in particular, has become a vital tool for reaching underserved populations and providing ongoing care management.
  • Interprofessional collaboration: Care coordination has become increasingly interprofessional, involving collaboration among nurses, physicians, pharmacists, social workers, and other health-care professionals. This team-based approach ensures that clients receive comprehensive care that addresses their physical, mental, and social needs.
  • Community-based care: With the recognition that many health-care needs extend beyond the hospital, nursing care coordination will expand into the community. Nurses work in various settings, including home health care, schools, and outpatient clinics, to provide preventive care and support clients in managing chronic conditions.
  • Cultural competency: As populations become more diverse, cultural competency gains greater importance in care coordination. Nurses are called to understand and respect the cultural beliefs and values of their clients, ensuring that care plans are culturally sensitive and appropriate.
  • Aging population: With the aging of the population, care coordination must adapt to address the unique needs of older adults, including complex medical conditions, polypharmacy, and geriatric syndromes. This involves a focus on holistic, person-centered care.
  • Health-care policy changes: Health-care policy reforms have emphasized care coordination as a means to improve quality, reduce costs, and enhance client outcomes (Salmond & Echevarria, 2017). These policies have encouraged health-care organizations to implement care coordination models and programs.
  • Client engagement: There is a growing emphasis on client engagement and shared decision-making in care coordination. Nurses work to empower clients to actively participate in their care planning, making informed decisions about their health.

Care Delivery Models/Treatment Settings

The evolving landscape of nursing care encompasses both changes in care delivery models and shifts in treatment settings to adapt to current health-care trends. Care delivery models are increasingly emphasizing a client-centered and holistic approach. Nurses are playing pivotal roles in interprofessional teams that collaborate to provide comprehensive care, acknowledging that clients often have multifaceted health-care needs. These care models are being applied across various treatment settings, from hospitals to community clinics, ensuring that clients receive well-rounded care that addresses their physical, mental, and social health.

In tandem with these care models, treatment settings are undergoing transformation to better align with contemporary health-care demands. A notable trend is the growing emphasis on community-based care settings. Health-care services are extending beyond traditional hospital confines, with the goal of enhancing accessibility and client-centeredness. This encompasses a diverse range of treatment settings, including home health care, outpatient clinics, and telehealth services. Home health care, for example, allows clients to receive care in the familiar surroundings of their homes, benefiting those with chronic conditions or mobility limitations.

Emerging Technologies

Telehealth services, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, provide a means for remote consultations, monitoring, and education, effectively breaking down geographical barriers and expanding access to care. Automated medical equipment for both clients and nurses include wearable and portable devices. Electronic centralized command centers broaden safe, efficient practice. Clients can monitor and report their own health status and access self-care support through apps for mental health and other medical concerns. By embracing technology, innovative care delivery models, and a variety of treatment settings, nursing is poised to offer more accessible, holistic, and effective health-care services in response to the evolving needs of diverse client populations.

Inclusive Strategies for Nursing Education

One of the most pressing issues in education, including psychiatric-mental health nursing education, is the ongoing faculty shortage. According to Kaas (2019), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) states that there is a continuing shortage of qualified faculty for undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students. This shortage continues to worsen as current faculty members retire and others are kept away by higher-paying positions.

Another one of the most important issues in current educational trends is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) (Jolley & Peck, 2022), which represents the commitment to recognizing and embracing differences, ensuring fairness, and fostering a sense of belonging for all individuals in order to create a more equitable and enriched nursing profession and health-care system. This can enhance nursing education by exposing students to various perspectives and experiences, enabling nurses to provide holistic and client-centered care that respects and meets the unique needs of diverse populations. Additionally, by fostering DEI in nursing education, programs can attract students from underrepresented backgrounds and create a more diverse nursing workforce. This diversity helps improve access to care, client satisfaction, and client outcomes, as individuals tend to feel more comfortable and understood when cared for by health-care professionals who share their cultural or linguistic background.

Another important purpose of emphasizing DEI is to address health disparities caused by social determinants of health (see Holistic Health and Interventions) and systemic inequalities and biases (Bradford et al., 2022). Underrepresented populations, such as Black and Hispanic people, are especially at risk for experiencing greater obstacles to health (Ndugga & Artiga, 2023). Nursing education can equip students with the knowledge and skills to identify and challenge these disparities.

Digital Platforms/Simulation

Digital platforms and simulation techniques, such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI), are increasingly central to current and future trends in psychiatric-mental health education. These technologies offer immersive and interactive learning experiences for students, enabling them to practice clinical skills, decision-making, and communication in a safe and controlled environment. Simulation scenarios can replicate complex mental health situations, allowing students to develop critical thinking skills and gain exposure to a wide range of client presentations. Moreover, digital platforms provide access to a wealth of educational resources, including online lectures, interactive case studies, and virtual client assessments, which complement traditional classroom teaching.

Clinical Specialization/Preceptorships

Clinical specialization and preceptorships play pivotal roles in both current and future psychiatric-mental health education trends. These experiences offer students the opportunity to delve deeply into specific areas of psychiatric nursing, such as child and adolescent mental health or substance use disorders. By working closely with experienced preceptors in real clinical settings, students gain invaluable hands-on experience, enhance their clinical skills, and develop a deeper understanding of client populations and treatment modalities. These specialized clinical experiences provide the practical knowledge and expertise necessary for delivering high-quality, client-centered care in a rapidly evolving field.

Creating a Personal Future Career/Service Plan

Nashwan (2023) advocates for nurses to create a personal future career or service plan as a professional in the field. Such a plan involves setting clear goals, such as further education or specialization, and defining the populations or mental health issues they are passionate about serving. It also entails identifying opportunities for professional development and staying current with evolving best practices and research. A service plan can include a commitment to promoting mental health awareness, reducing stigma, and advocating for equitable access to mental health care. By outlining their aspirations and strategies for growth, psychiatric-mental health nurses can ensure meaningful and purpose-driven careers dedicated to improving the mental well-being of individuals and communities.

Professional/Educational Development

Nurses are encouraged to assume a deliberate focus on professional and educational development. In this process, nurses take proactive steps to enhance their skills, knowledge, and expertise to advance in their careers and contribute effectively to health care. This development may encompass pursuing advanced certifications, such as registered nurse board certification, or specialized training to gain specialized expertise in areas, such as psychiatric-mental health nursing. Additionally, nurses can engage in continuous learning through workshops, seminars, and conferences to stay updated on the latest research and best practices in the field. They may also seek mentorship or preceptorship opportunities to learn from experienced professionals. This dedication to professional and educational growth not only helps nurses provide better care but also positions them for leadership roles and opportunities to influence the future of psychiatric-mental health nursing through research, policy advocacy, and innovation.


Advocacy and networking are important aspects of creating a personal career or service plan in nursing. Advocacy entails actively speaking out for the needs of clients, the nursing profession, and health care in general, spanning individual client advocacy to influencing health-care policies. Nurses can develop advocacy skills to become effective change agents, improving client outcomes and shaping the future of health care. Concurrently, networking involves building relationships within the nursing profession and the broader health-care community. It opens doors to opportunities like mentorship, research collaboration, and access to resources. Nurses can expand their networks through conferences, professional organizations, online forums, and community involvement, providing valuable insights and collaborative prospects that advance their careers and amplify their impact in health care.

Well-Being: Self and Others

In the formulation of a personal future career or service plan in nursing, it is crucial to emphasize the well-being of both oneself and others. This holistic approach encompasses various facets. First and foremost, nurses must prioritize self-care to maintain their physical and mental health. This involves setting boundaries, practicing stress-reduction techniques, and seeking support when necessary to prevent burnout, ensuring they can consistently provide high-quality care to their clients. Central to this plan is a steadfast commitment to the well-being of clients, entailing a dedication to continually improving the quality of care delivered, staying updated on evidence-based practices, and advocating for client rights and safety. Moreover, fostering a supportive network among colleagues is pivotal, as nurses can collaborate, share experiences, and offer emotional support to create a positive work environment. Beyond clinical settings, nurses can extend their impact by promoting community health through education, outreach, and advocacy for health-care policy changes, particularly in underserved populations. In essence, a well-rounded personal career or service plan in nursing recognizes the interconnectedness of self-care, client well-being, and community impact, ensuring that nurses are equipped to provide exceptional care while contributing positively to health care at large.


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