what is a community psychiatric nurse?

As a community psychiatric nurse, you are part of the interdisciplinary mental health team working in communities. You carry out various recovery and support activities for people experiencing continuing mental illness. Unlike other mental health nurses, you visit patients in their homes or work from a community-based mental health facility.

The job of a community psychiatric nurse involves reviewing and developing a patient's clinical care needs. You work alongside other healthcare professionals to implement the care programme and help the patient during recovery. You can refer patients with acute mental health conditions to psychiatrists and psychotherapists. You manage the caseload for the entire community and are the contact person for people who need mental health care.

As a community psychiatric nurse, you deal with a range of patients and mental health conditions. For instance, your help children, adults and teens deal with anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and substance abuse.

Your job also involves educating the community on mental health issues. You help parents and families understand a patient's conditions and how to support them. You actively work to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and encourage people to seek treatment or help from medical professionals. Becoming a community psychiatric nurse requires patience and emotional intelligence to build trusting relationships and create effective care plans.

Would working in health as a community psychiatric nurse suit your empathy and listening skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a community psychiatric nurse role.

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community psychiatric nurse salary

According to ONS, a community psychiatric nurse earns a median salary of £44,811 per year. You have minimal skills and work experience when starting, so your earnings start from £34,628 per year. As you build your skills and improve your experience and educational qualifications, your salary can rise to £56,550 annually.

The compensation package usually includes various allowances like medical and life insurance. Sometimes, you will receive accommodation and a transport allowance, due to the travelling involved in the role. You also get paid holidays and uniform allowances.

When you work for the NHS, your salary starts at Band 5, which is £25,655 per year and rises to £31,534 annually. As you improve your skills, you can work at Band 6 and 7 with annual salaries ranging from £32,306 to £45,839.

how to increase your salary as a community psychiatric nurse

Your location and employer influence your salary as a community psychiatric nurse. For instance, when you work in London, you are likely to earn additional allowances due to the high demand and increased cost of living. You will also deal with a wider range of health problems, making your job more complex. Working in the private sector pays more than working for the government.


male nurse and doctor
male nurse and doctor

types of community psychiatric nurses

Some of the types of community psychiatric nurses include:

  • early intervention community psychiatric nurse: you work with patients who experience the first episode or signs of mental health problems. Your job is to provide psychological support and discuss medication with carers and family members.
  • crisis resolution home treatment CPN: you support mental health patients in their homes who would otherwise be admitted to a mental health facility. You provide ongoing care and aim to prevent admission.
  • assertive outreach CPN: you work with people experiencing chronic mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. You also assist patients with drug abuse problems or criminal histories.


working as a community psychiatric nurse

As a community psychiatric nurse, you improve access to mental health services and educate people on the importance of mental health awareness. Let's explore some of the daily responsibilities of a community psychiatric nurse.


education and skills

You need the following educational qualifications to become a community psychiatric nurse:

  • university: you can join community psychiatric nursing via an undergraduate degree course in mental health nursing. The course covers training and clinical rotation in the field to help you gain experience. You also have to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to practice when you complete the degree. If you want to convert to mental health nursing, you can join the course in the second year and study for two years.
  • apprenticeship: if you have a background in healthcare, you can join a degree apprenticeship programme to become a community psychiatric nurse. The programme requires at least 5 GCSEs and takes over four years.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities you need in a community psychiatric nurse role include:

  • good judgement and attention to detail: as a community psychiatric nurse, you need sound judgement to make accurate diagnoses during evaluation and screening. With good judgement, you can spot contradictions in patient responses. Attention to detail also helps you spot changes in a patient's behavioural patterns.
  • empathy: as a community psychiatric nurse, you need to put yourself in the patient's shoes to understand what they are going through. However, you have to separate your emotions from your job to provide the best care.
  • communication skills: as a community psychiatric nurse, your communication should be excellent since you communicate with various people in the community. Communication skills also help with writing reports.
  • patience: you need to be strong-willed and patient to provide the best care for patients. Some mental health patients can test your limits, and you need to remain calm under pressure.

Nurse portrait
Nurse portrait


FAQs about working as a community psychiatric nurse

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