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Professionalism in Mental Health Nursing

The relationship between clients and care providers is considered the core of professional practice in nursing. Professionalism is vital in several ways as it impacts the quality of care offered and public trust. The nature of the required professional practice can vary in the community due to the different conditions and challenges that accompany the complexity of the care needs and diversity of professions and organizations. Additionally, the need to develop cost-effective health outcomes contributes to professional practice’s varying nature. The relationship between professionals and services users has been determined to change radically. As a result, it might not be easy to describe professionalism precisely. However, both concepts have been defined to be contested and fluid.

Usually, a professional is described as a part of a group of experts, having specialist skills and knowledge to license their practices. The nature of the practices carried out by professionals is vocational, meaning their roles are essential in society. Professionals must practice their duties in the best ways possible to meet the clients’ interests they are serving. Thus, their approaches are always intentionally altruistic. In this sense, professionals can sometimes be considered ideal advocates for the clients they are performing and can therefore define their clients based on their needs. They can determine the necessary solutions using their expertise. These attributes contribute to higher professional autonomy, building more trusting relationships between clients and professionals. In mental healthcare, licensed professionals can access various necessary aspects to undertake necessary clinical examinations, assessments, and treatments for the patient’s benefit. Therefore, professionals expect many moral standards and power to strive to do what is best for the client.


Professionalism in mental health nursing is crucial as it forms the fundamental goals of psychiatrists and other healthcare providers. It requires healthcare providers to play primary responsibilities that ensure that the professionals behave in manners that abide by the standards of their profession as they carry out various clinical and non-clinical duties in different settings to standards acceptable in the profession.

Analysis of the Research

In mental health nursing, professionalism reflects on offering quality care for the patient while honoring several values such as respect, responsibility, and advocacy. Additionally, professionalism extends to the nurse’s ability to communicate clearly and self-reflect actions and behaviors as they strive for personal and professional development. According to various sources, nursing professionalism is described as diverse and categorized into three equally essential groups (Kwon et al., 2010). These are:

  1. Cognitive: this is described as the type of professionalism that focuses on continually learning about given professional conduct while applying the learned skills to develop knowledge in various work settings. Nurses can develop the fundamental tools needed to make decisions by practicing this skill effectively.
  2. Psychomotor: this aspect of professionalism promotes the perception that as nurses gain experience, they can develop to practice more than their clinical skills. Nurses can improve their skills regarding management while comprehending the inherent commitments and obligations involved in their approach (Kwon et al., 2010). Nurses can therefore adopt various methods to sharpen their self-learning and self-discipline skills.
  3. Attitudinal: this dimension involves nurses’ ideas and attitudes to guide them through their duties. These dimensions are fundamental throughout their nursing career. The attitude of the nurses must align with the set practical standards and general goals set by their organizations (Kwon et al., 2010). The willingness of a nurse to remain flexible and the ability to make necessary compromises for more excellent intentions are described to have significant bearings on their abilities to navigate various challenges associated with their profession.

Nurses can exhibit professionalism to benefit patients with mental health conditions, careers, coworkers, and their organizations in several ways. According to various studies, nurses can always customize their care services to best suit the patient’s needs while proactively working with the available medical staff and acting with integrity and honesty, especially when under pressure (Söderberg, Ejneborn & Gabrielsson, 2021). While dealing with patients in these situations, nurses should always consider the core elements of nursing professionalism by acknowledging that care always comes first. It is essential to communicate clearly to ensure that the patient understands the information. The nurses need to make decisions that are well-informed and are best for the patient.


Nurses must understand the importance of individual treatment. This means that the nurse treats colleagues and patients as individuals who bear unique beliefs, needs, and values. This helps to promote respect and dignity as the nurse strives to protect the patient’s privacy. Respecting and encouraging dignity ensures that the nurse does not disclose the client’s information to unauthorized persons while preserving their anonymity when highlighting their cases in various research, coursework, or other publications that are deemed public.

According to Simon et al. (2013), professionalism in healthcare ensures that the nurses uphold higher standards of care to their clients. Nurses should be punctual, at the same time, acknowledge when certain situations are beyond their professional scope. It is crucial to work together with the team members to develop the best solution to a problem. Additionally, the nurses need to uphold their reputation and maintain higher standards of work ethics.

Implications of Nursing Practice

To improve patient outcomes, nurses should uphold higher standards of professionalism while dealing with mental health patients. While nurses are upholding their care practices, they should aim to promote the well-being and health of the patients and manage various risk factors associated with the clients’ conditions. In most cases, nurses have failed to offer timely interventions that focus on the recovery of mental health patients (Söderberg, Ejneborn & Gabrielsson, 2021). There have been cases where the psychiatric diagnoses have failed to describe the patient’s experience with mental distress during the categorization process. Therefore, upholding the professional standards set by various nursing bodies and organizations can help improve the decisions made by nurses concerning the well-being of the patient. Such can help improve the diagnostic processes associated, thus promoting early interventions to help determine the best treatments and care for the patients.


Professionalism in mental health nursing forms a fundamental part of nursing practices, and every nurse should understand the importance of upholding the associated standards. This is because it can help determine the best ways to improve the patients’ health outcomes and maintain higher standards and reputation for the nurse and the organization. While dealing with patients with mental health issues, nurses are required to uphold utmost communication practices to ensure that every decision they make and the treatments procedures are well communicated to the patients or their families. Such initiatives ensure higher professional standards and promote an understanding between the caregiver, the patient, and their families.


Kwon, K. J., Ko, K. H., Kim, K. W., & Kim, J. A. (2010). The impact of nursing professionalism on the nursing performance and retention intention among psychiatric mental health nurses. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing Administration16(3), 229-239.

Simon, M. A., Gunia, B., Martin, E. J., Foucar, C. E., Kundu, T., Ragas, D. M., & Emanuel, L. L. (2013). Path toward economic resilience for family caregivers: Mitigating household deprivation and the health care talent shortage at the same time. The Gerontologist53(5), 861-873.

Söderberg, A., Ejneborn Looi, G. M., & Gabrielsson, S. (2021). Constrained nursing: Nurses’ and assistant nurses’ experiences working in a child and adolescent psychiatric ward. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.


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