Psychiatric Aides

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Also known as:
Mental Health Aide (MHA), Mental Health Worker (MHW), Psychiatric Aide, Psychiatric Nursing Aide, Psychiatric Nursing Assistant, Resident Care Technician, Therapeutic Program Worker (TPW)

Video transcript

Psychiatric technicians and aides provide safety and support to help people with mental illness and severe developmental disabilities enjoy quality of life, and to improve their mental health. Also known as mental health technicians, psychiatric technicians assist with patients' therapeutic care; they listen to patients' concerns and lead them in recreational or therapeutic activities. They also have medical tasks, administering medication and monitoring patients' vital signs. Psychiatric aides assist with transportation, engage patients in activities, and maintain a safe, clean physical environment. Both technicians and aides help patients with daily living needs, such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Meeting patients' needs requires patience and fortitude as well as the stamina to be on your feet all day and, if it comes to it, the strength to restrain a distressed or violent patient. It's not always pleasant work. However, these workers can have a great deal of influence on patients' outlooks and treatments. Observation skills, communication, and compassion are key qualities in these fields. Psychiatric technicians and aides work in psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and chemical dependency addiction treatment centers. Facilities are typically all-hours, so work hours may include nights, weekends, and holidays. Psychiatric technicians usually need a certificate in the field, and many also have previous experience as a nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse. Psychiatric aides typically need only a high school diploma. Both technicians and aides get on-the-job training before they work without direct supervision.

Assist mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients, working under direction of nursing and medical staff. May assist with daily living activities, lead patients in educational and recreational activities, or accompany patients to and from examinations and treatments. May restrain violent patients. Includes psychiatric orderlies.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Restrain or aid patients as necessary to prevent injury.

Work as part of a team that may include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, or social workers.

Aid patients in becoming accustomed to hospital routine.

Accompany patients to and from wards for medical or dental treatments, shopping trips, or religious or recreational events.

Provide mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients with routine physical, emotional, psychological, or rehabilitation care under the direction of nursing or medical staff.

Perform nursing duties, such as administering medications, measuring vital signs, collecting specimens, or drawing blood samples.

Serve meals or feed patients needing assistance or persuasion.

Listen and provide emotional support and encouragement to psychiatric patients.

Organize, supervise, or encourage patient participation in social, educational, or recreational activities.

Provide patients with assistance in bathing, dressing, or grooming, demonstrating these skills as necessary.

Clean and disinfect rooms and furnishings to maintain a safe and orderly environment.

Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Therapy and Counseling Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Sociology and Anthropology Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
Medicine and Dentistry Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.