How to Improve Your Performance as an RMN

Nov 28, 2022


The role of a Registered Mental Health Nurse is a pretty loaded one. Not only do you dedicate your time to the recovery or stabilisation of your patients, but you also work with a diverse number of fellow healthcare workers.

With all that to focus on, it can be easy to put yourself,­ your wellbeing and your learning and development­ at the bottom of the list. After all, we know the level of selflessness needed to be a RMN.

But never fear, we’ve got your back and have put together some tips to make sure you’re investing in yourself to reach new heights.

Here are our best tips on how to improve your performance as an RMN.

Throw the Task List out of the Window

We realise that this might sound a bit counterproductive. After all, we’re focusing on your improving performance at work, right? And shouldn’t that mean achieving more on the job?

Well… yes and no.

Despite always having a task list to complete, nursing is far from a task-orientated field. On any day, you could be called into a crisis which, in many cases, will mean throwing the task list straight out of the window!

No matter where you work or what your specialty is, your core duty as an RMN remains the same: to provide quality care to your patients. This means being empathetic, staying non-judgmental and showing compassion for hardship and suffering.

Sometimes, the simple act of stopping to show kindness can be far more important than ticking tasks off a list. Remember, for some people, mental health nurses are the only person they have to listen to them and take their condition seriously, which is why compassion is key. It’s always at the forefront of what nurses do.

Communication is Key

To be a good mental health nurse, you must learn to communicate effectively – verbally and non-verbally! You’ll know that when communicating with your patients, you’ll be mindful of your body language. Sometimes, the way you say something says just as much as your words. Approach patients in a friendly and calm manner. Try to form a connection through your facial expressions and movements and remember to actively listen.

Working in mental health, many patients may be feeling confused, angry, depressed, manic or psychotic. By taking the time to actively listen to their stories, you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to help them through the problems they face. If you can understand what’s distressing them, you may be able to de-escalate those negative feelings.

Communicating with your team is equally important too. Consult your MDT before making decisions if you’re uncertain, explain things with clarity, and speak confidently and assertively. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Improving your skills as an effective communicator will help you in all aspects of your career.

Strengthen Your Weaknesses

Admitting you have any weaknesses in the workplace can be an uncomfortable feeling – especially if you’ve been doing your job for years! But you shouldn’t be afraid to recognise areas where you may have limitations. This is completely normal and part of any job. It’s what you do to improve the weakness that counts.

Seek opportunities to build upon these areas, whether through additional training, mentorship or even just discussing it with colleagues. By sharpening your skills, you’re improving your performance as an RMN and strengthening the team around you.

As a nurse, you should always be learning. Medical advances happen daily, and it’s up to you to stay on top of them and deliver the best and most up-to-date care to your patients.

Remember Your Setting

To you, it’s your workplace – the same place you turn up to every day, the same colleagues you deal with daily. But to a patient or their family, your workplace might be the backdrop to one of the most traumatic days of their lives.

Regardless of the situation, nurses are there to provide support when patients and families need it most. Your role is incredibly important and you may be able to mitigate the concerns of patients or their families by remaining genuine, attentive and kind.

As an RMN, you’re in a unique position where you may be witnessing a family at its most vulnerable. You need to be able to observe, see the patient and sometimes the family dynamics, in order to gather information.

Take the time to reset and remind yourself of where you are and why you’re doing your job. This simple step can work wonders for improving your performance as an RMN.

Take Care of Number One

A good mental health nurse must have strong analytical and deductive skills.  You need to identify patterns in behaviours and thoughts in your patients and then use these observations to create customised healthcare treatment plans.

In order to carry out these important functions, you must be in the right headspace to think clearly and make good decisions. It’s very simple: if you want to properly care for your patients, you need to care for yourself. If your own physical or mental health is suffering, it makes it incredibly difficult to deliver the best care for your patients.

We know the number of mental health nurses in the English NHS has not grown in line with national targets promised by the government. The pandemic has also exacerbated a preexisting nationwide nursing shortage. A shortage of professionals can make it challenging to take the time you need to recuperate and refill your tank.

However, when working in a busy and demanding industry, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. Here are a few of our favourite small steps to make sure you take care of number one!:

  • Don’t wait for a whole day off for self-care. Self-care can be as simple as a daily five-minute meditation, calling a family member for a chat or spending some time reading in the bath after a long shift. Make these part of your routines and practices.
  • Commit to eating a healthy diet – practice what you preach!
  • Find opportunities to exercise or move your body – even if you don’t feel like it, your body will thank you.
  • Get enough sleep each night – in such a demanding industry, it’s important to get your rest.

Practising self-care will improve how you feel, both physically and mentally. Check out our guide on mental health best practices for nurses for more tips.

Find Your Next Step

If you’re looking to explore the next steps of your RMN career, reach out to the team at WESolutions. As a leading Registered Mental Health Nurse recruitment agency with over 15 years of experience placing nurses into the top UK healthcare organisations, we would love to talk to you about finding new nursing jobs and opportunities. Get in touch with us today.