The amount of people who are suffering from mental illness continues to rise nationwide. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, in 2016 there were 226,000 people suffering with a severe mental illness in Minnesota. A severe mental illness is defined by a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder that significantly impairs major life functioning and includes illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners provide high quality care to those suffering from these disorders, as well as substance abuse disorders and other mental illnesses. PMHNPs hold a master’s degree or doctoral degree in psychiatric nursing and have completed advanced education and clinical training. They are prepared to provide holistic care with a biopsychosocial perspective and are licensed to prescribe medications, provide psychotherapy, provide case management and manage overall patient care.
The United States is experiencing a health care provider crisis, especially in the specialty of mental health care. With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 there has been an increase in access to health insurance and care services for those with mental health disorders. It is great that these people are now covered by insurance and able to access care; however, there are not enough mental health providers to care for all of them.
There are currently over 234,000 Nurse Practitioners licensed to practice in the U.S. today, but only 4.2 percent of these practitioners specialize in mental health services. This amounts to about three PMHNPs per 100,000 people.
There is a need for public awareness to support the growing need of mental health care services; services that PMHNPs are prepared to provide such as psychotherapy, medication management, and case management, especially in the rural areas of the U.S.
Nurse Practitioners have provided cost-effective quality care for 50 years. The office of Technology Assessment reported that Nurse Practitioners provide the same level of care as physicians, but at a lower cost. When considering the cost of education, salary and ability to provide the same level quality care, Nurse Practitioners are cost effective health care providers.