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Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurses’ Roles Research Paper

This paper introduces the description of the study concentrated on the role of psychiatric and mental health nurses. It defines the research problem and proves its timeliness. The document lists the objectives of the study and identifies its primary focus. It introduces research methods and explains their usefulness, as well as discusses the chosen forms of data collection. Finally, the paper identifies the utility of the study by presenting its determining factors.

Research Description

Research Problem Definition

The proposed research will concentrate on the evolution of the role of psychiatric and mental health nurses in Canada. The timeliness of the study is based on the fact that mental health services changed their focus after deinstitutionalization in the 1980s (Goutler, 2015). The shift towards community care played a significant role both for patients and care providers (Boschma, 2011). Although the primary principles of care have not undergone great changes, it is necessary to understand how mental health nurses’ role has evolved and what the effects of the shift on medical professionals are. Thus, the research problem is to identify the contemporary tendencies in caregivers’ practices and the factors contributing to them.


The primary objective of the study is to investigate the changes in caregivers’ role in the treatment of patients with mental health disparities. The research aims to focus not only on nurses’ experiences in care but also on the effects of the changes they face. Another study’s goal is to prove that the role of nurses has undergone severe shifts since the end of the twentieth century and that the impact of those changes is significant both to patients and to medical professionals. It also aims to suggest effective strategies of the nursing practice improvement based on the evidence collected from the interviews and the relevant literature.

Primary Focus

The study will focus on the reasons that cause changes in psychiatric nurses’ role. The researches by De Nesnera and Allen (2016), and Happell and McAllister (2015) suggest that there are several factors contributing to the issue, including physicians’ shortages. The changes also concern nursing ethics, scope, and standards of practice (Kane, 2015). Changing social and disease-type demographics are driving forces of the transformation as well (Salmond & Echevarria, 2017).

The new tendencies in treatment require caregivers to meet high demands for patient-centered, safe, and quality care. In Canada, nurses do not have national standards for their role, which means that there is inconsistency between their educational preparations (Parker & Hill, 2017). Thus, it is necessary to discuss the impact of change on their responsibilities, approaches to treatment, as well as their personal experience.

The analysis of historical data will be also included in the research, as it is essential to trace and discuss the transformation over time. For example, in the 1970s, community mental health services only started to emerge in Canada (Boschma, Davies, & Morrow, 2014). Their occurrence was caused by the rise of scientific psychiatry and required the new understanding of treatment (Boschma, 2010). Since the 1990s, the adoption of principles for the protection of individuals with mental illnesses, mental health has been considered a human rights issue and required the improvement of care services (Smith & Boschma, 2016).

As the attention to psychiatry increased, the patients became more involved in their care planning due to the predominant focus in mental health practice (Newman, O’Reilly, Lee, & Kennedy, 2015). These facts explain the significance of the analysis of historical data along with the recent methods of treatment.

Research Methods and Data Collection

To conduct the study, the qualitative research methods will be used. For the context of mental health-related practices, such format is the most effective as it can provide the insights of complex and poorly studied areas (Crowe, Inder, & Porter, 2015). This study will utilize the methods of thematic and content analysis. Thematic analysis will be implemented to interpret the available qualitative data found in evidence-based resources. It will include the findings presented in the works of Hunter, Weber, Shattell, and Harris, (2015), Hart and Warren, (2015), Boschma (2010, 2011), and other researchers. Content analysis will be used to describe the findings to represent the current tendencies in medical care and report on the changes in nurses’ role.

Interviews with mental health nurses with over five years of experience, both individually and in focus groups, will be utilized to collect the data as well. It ensures that the data will include individual perspectives and the information about nurses’ shared experience. The critiques of the qualitative approach will be considered to provide evidence and avoid common mistakes in mental health studies (Grant, 2014). The chosen methods of research and data collection follow the objectives of the study and ensure its accuracy and relevance.

Research Utility

Several significant factors determine the utility of the study. Nurses remain the largest professional group within the mental health workforce, so it is crucial to address their roles in treatment (McAllister, Happell, & Flynn, 2014). The research will provide valuable insight into the conditions psychiatric nurses experience during their practice. The problems of occupational stress and burnout can be caused by the expanded caregivers’ responsibility and are necessary to address (Byron, Ziedonis, McGrath, Frazier, & Fulwiler, 2015). The study will also reveal other issues associated with psychiatric nursing, including stigmatization and discrimination (Mårtensson, Jacobsson, & Engström, 2014).

These factors can have a severe impact on medical professionals’ performance and influence their self-perception and identity (Sercu, Ayala, & Bracke, 2015). Moreover, the study will discuss the alternative methods of treatment nurses use in their practice, such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy suggested by Gu, Strauss, Bond, and Cavanagh (2015) and journaling (Folke et al., 2018). The research will suggest the strategies for improvement based on the findings from the investigation.


The study will concentrate on the role of psychiatric and mental health nurses. It is designed to provide valuable insight into the changes that caregivers’ practice has undergone in the past decades and the factors contributing to them. The objectives of the research are to investigate the changes in psychiatric nurses’ role in Canada, prove that their role has undergone severe transformations, and suggest effective strategies of the caregivers’ practice improvement.

Its primary focus includes the reasons that are causing changes and the factors contributing to them, the historical background of the issue, and the impact the shift has had on medical professionals. The research will use qualitative methods, including thematic and content analysis, as well as individual and group interviews. The research utility is determined by the necessity to address the role of nurses and the methods they use in treatment, reveal the problems they face, and suggest the effective solution strategies for them.


Boschma, G. (2010). The rise of mental health nursing: A history of psychiatric care in Dutch Asylums, 1890-1920. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press.

Boschma, G. (2011). Deinstitutionalization reconsidered: Geographic and demographic changes in mental health care in British Columbia and Alberta, 1950-1980. Histoire Sociale/Social History, 44(2), 223-256.

Boschma, G., Davies, M., & Morrow, M. (2014). “Those people known as mental patients…”: Professional and patient engagement in community mental health in Vancouver, BC in the 1970s. Web.

Byron, G., Ziedonis, D. M., McGrath, C., Frazier, J. A., & Fulwiler, C. (2015). Implementation of mindfulness training for mental health staff: Organizational context and stakeholder perspectives. Mindfulness, 6(4), 861-872.

Crowe, M., Inder, M., & Porter, R. (2015). Conducting qualitative research in mental health: Thematic and content analyses. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(7), 616-623.

De Nesnera, A., & Allen, D. E. (2016). Expanding the role of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners in a state psychiatric system: The New Hampshire experience. State Mental Health Policy, 67(5), 482-484.

Folke, F., Hursti, T., Kanter, J. W., Arinell, H., Tungström, S., Söderberg, P., & Ekselius, L. (2018). Exploring the relationship between activities and emotional experience using a diary in a mental health inpatient setting. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27(1), 276-286.

Goutler, N. (2015). Patterns of care: Primary research in mental health nursing. Web.

Grant, A. (2014). Troubling ‘lived experience’: A post‐structural critique of mental health nursing qualitative research assumptions. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 21(6), 544-549.

Gu, J., Strauss, C., Bond, R., & Cavanagh, K. (2015). How do mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction improve mental health and wellbeing? A systematic review and meta-analysis of mediation studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 37, 1-12.

Happell, B., & McAllister, M. (2015). The challenges of undergraduate mental health nursing education from the perspectives of heads of schools of nursing in Queensland, Australia. Collegian, 22(3), 267-274.

Hart, S. M., & Warren, A. M. (2015). Understanding nurses’ work: Exploring the links between changing work, labour relations, workload, stress, retention and recruitment. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 36(2), 305-329.

Hunter, L., Weber, T., Shattell, M., & Harris, B. A. (2015). Nursing students’ attitudes about psychiatric mental health nursing. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 36(1), 29-34.

Kane, C. (2015). The 2014 scope and standards of practice for psychiatric mental health nursing: Key updates. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 20. Web.

Mårtensson, G., Jacobsson, J. W., & Engström, M. (2014). Mental health nursing staff’s attitudes towards mental illness: An analysis of related factors. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 21(9), 782-788.

McAllister, M., Happell, B., & Flynn, T. (2014). Learning essentials: What graduates of mental health nursing programmes need to know from an industry perspective. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23(23-24), 3449-3459.

Newman, D., O’Reilly, P., Lee, S. H., & Kennedy, C. (2015). Mental health service users’ experiences of mental health care: An integrative literature review. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 22(3), 171-182.

Parker, J. M., & Hill, M. N. (2017). A review of advanced practice nursing in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong special administrative region (SAR), China. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 4(2), 196-204.

Salmond, S. W., & Echevarria, M. (2017). Healthcare transformation and changing roles for nursing. Orthopedic Nursing, 36(1), 12–25.

Sercu, C., Ayala, R. A., & Bracke, P. (2015). How does stigma influence mental health nursing identities? An ethnographic study of the meaning of stigma for nursing role identities in two Belgian psychiatric hospitals. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(1), 307-316.

Smith, K. M., & Boschma, G. (2016). Toward community-based practice: The changing role of the registered nurse in psychiatry and mental health. In S. B. Lewenson, A. McAllister, & K. Smith (Eds.), Nursing history for contemporary role development (pp. 93-119). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurses' Roles." January 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/psychiatric-and-mental-health-nurses-roles/.


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