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A photo-like graphic showing two hands. One hand is holding a large capsule. The capsule is full of sprockets and gears. These are flowing from the capsule toward the other hand. In the other hand is a profile of a head made up of gears and sprockets.
Figure 4.1 Psychiatric-mental health nurses are important members of an interdisciplinary team that collaborates to evaluate and treat clients. (credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Lillian Moreno, Public Domain)

The human brain is responsible for interpreting and managing responses to environmental stimuli, cognitive processes, emotions, learning, and memories. Human development is shaped by genetic determinants, environmental influences, and human cognitive and emotional interpretations. Despite the explosion of neuroscientific exploration over the past 60 years, the mysteries of the mind still abound, particularly when it comes to mental health disorders. The practice of nursing integrates the neurobiological correlates of human behavior with functional knowledge of how psychopharmaceuticals manage mental health disease. Nurses must develop the knowledge and skills needed to provide nursing interventions to manage psychotropic medications. The combination of knowledge of foundations of neurobiology and pharmaceuticals will facilitate the nurse’s ability to competently manage the following:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of psychopharmaceuticals and alternative treatments using assessment data.
  • Assess side effects of psychopharmaceuticals and possible interactions with substances (alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs), food, other medications, or supplements.
  • Implement client-centered plans of care to manage side effects of psychopharmaceuticals or interactions with substances, food, other medications, or supplements.
  • Identify risks to the client’s health and potential nursing diagnoses related to care and treatment.
  • Synthesize scientific evidence to provide health education on side effects, potential adverse effects, and health promotion strategies in those who are using psychopharmaceuticals.

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