During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) continued its efforts to raise awareness about mental health. Throughout the year, AANP provides essential continuing education (CE) courses for NPs and offer additional ways NPs can support patients with mental health or substance use disorders.

NPs have an important opportunity to provide appropriate treatments for patients with mental health needs, and psychiatric mental health NPs (PMHNPs) have specialized training to provide therapy and prescribe medication-assisted treatment for patients who have mental health concerns or a substance use disorder (SUD).

The nation’s 355,000 NPs are working hard to raise awareness of the substantial increase in mental health struggles experienced by people of all ages — including adolescents and children — due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2021 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic. Findings from the poll indicate that the pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of adults in every age group (18-65+), ranging from a 29% increase in mental health challenges to a more than 56% increase among those surveyed.

AANP President April Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, said NPs have led the way in highlighting and addressing the importance of mental health treatment during the pandemic. “Nurse practitioners have stepped up over and over again to create access to vital health care services — before and throughout the pandemic,” said Kapu. “House calls, telehealth, urgent care centers, mobile testing and vaccination centers are just a few settings in which NPs have led to increase community access to care. They have staffed emergency departments, intensive care units and COVID-19 inpatient specialty units. Throughout it all, NPs have provided mental health services and support for their patients and their communities. Now, it’s time for legislators, hospital leaders and clinical teams to prioritize mental health for NPs and other essential caregivers.”

Article by Heather Kays

Click here for the full AANP article