What are the Major Responsibilities of a Psychiatric Aide?

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Psychiatric aides, also referred to as psychiatric nursing aides or mental health technicians, provide basic care for patients that are mentally ill or emotionally disturbed. They typically work under the direct supervision of advanced mental health professionals (clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and/or clinical social workers). In other words, these health professionals help the patients, eat, dress and bathe.

Psychiatric Aide

They also accompany patients to their doctor’s appointments, recreational activities, therapy sessions, etc. It is not uncommon for a psychiatric aide to spend a considerable time socializing (getting to know) the patients (i.e. watching television, playing games and/or encouraging them to attend supervised social functions). Psychiatric aides use the time they spend with patients to observe their thought processes and behaviors. If you are wondering about the major responsibilities of a psychiatric aid – you have come to the right place. This article will help you understand the psychiatric aide’s primary responsibilities.

Job Responsibilities

The main responsibility of a psychiatric aid is to provide assistance and care services to mentally ill and/or emotionally disturbed patients. As a psychiatric aide, you work directly under the supervision of a medical team. You also assist patients with making their beds, taking their medications, completing paperwork, bathing, getting dressed, grooming, eating, completing tasks, attending doctor’s and therapy appointments and socializing with others.

Additional Main Responsibilities

  • Monitoring patients (in order to identify abnormal and/or unusual behaviors)
  • Reporting patient observations to your supervisor
  • Providing mentally ill and/or emotionally disturbed patients with basic emotional, physical, rehabilitative and psychological care (under the supervision of a psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse, physician and/or a clinical social worker)
  • Documenting the medical history of patients (i.e. conditions, vital signs, activities, previous episodes, medications, social skills, sleeping patterns, behaviors and eating habits)
  • Working as part of a medical team that may include: psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and clinical social workers
  • Helping patients adapt to hospital routines
  • Organizing, directing and encouraging patients to participate in educational, social and recreational activities
  • Assessing vital signs, administering medications, collecting specimens and blood samples, serving meals and feeding patients that need support and/or assistance
  • Aiding and/or restraining patients, when needed, to prevent injury
  • Providing intake services to patients entering treatment


As a psychiatric aid, you will need to have the following knowledge to perform your main responsibilities:

  • An in-depth understanding of human performance and behaviors (personality, skill, learning abilities, skills and motivation)
  • Various psychological research methods (diagnosis and treatment of affective and behavioral disorders)
  • Methods, techniques, principles and procedures needed for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of mental and/or physical disorders and disabilities
  • The English language (pronunciation, spelling, definitions and grammar)
  • Important therapeutic policies, equipment procedures, techniques, methods and strategies when treating mentally ill and/or emotionally disturbed patients
  • How to assess patient needs


As a psychiatric aid, you will need to have the following skills to perform your main responsibilities:

  • An awareness of other people’s responses and a clear understand as to why they respond that way
  • The ability to give your full attention to what others say (taking into account the major points, asking probing questions and refraining from interrupting the speaker)
  • Actively looking for ways to help people in need
  • The ability to improve the lives of others
  • The ability to assess the needs of others and communicate those needs to the appropriate people
  • The ability to change people’s minds and/or persuade them to change their behaviors
  • The ability to read and comprehend complex documents
  • The ability to effectively convey information to others
  • The ability to respond to challenging and/or stressful situations appropriately
  • The ability to use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses
  • The ability to find positive and healthy solutions to problems
  • The ability to teach people new things and understand their situations

Capabilities (Skills)

As a psychiatric aid, you will need to have the following capabilities (skills) to perform your main responsibilities:

  • The ability to communicate information and ideas in a way that others will understand
  • The ability to recognize when something is likely to go right or wrong (this does not involve actually solving the problem, rather it focuses on simply guessing the outcome based on the current information and situation)
  • The ability to actively listen to, analyze and comprehend information and ideas written in a document
  • The ability to speak in a way that others can understand you
  • The ability to understand and comprehend the speaker’s main points and/or message
  • The ability to form conclusions based on similar pieces of information

Work Environment

If you are interested in becoming a psychiatric aide, you can expect to work in psychiatric facilities, hospitals, clinics, schools, private practices, drug and alcohol treatment centers, nursing homes, social services agencies and residential facilities. It is important to note that you may be required to work with severely mentally ill patients who present a danger to themselves and/or others. Moreover, if you are a full-time employee, you will be expected to work at least 40 hours a week. Patient needs may vary, therefore, you may be required to work nights, holidays and weekends. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), 76% of psychiatric aides work full-time.

Further Readings and References

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