- • Mental health nurses are engaged with mentally ill patients; therefore, they often experience struggles in controlling those who are problematic, and are concerned with the safety and basic needs of all their patients.
- • There is an altruistic perspective among Iranian psychiatric nurses, who incorporate the love of humanity to grow closer to God.
- • A competent psychiatric nurse is a nurse who has reached a level of self-control, is intuitive and self-aware, and holds a holistic perspective of patients.
- • Nurses are challenged by specific issues and difficulties that are rooted in social, cultural and organizational properties.
Patients with mental illness require unique and specific care. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of nurses, who provide such care for mentally ill people, within the context of Iranian culture. This hermeneutic phenomenological study was carried out in a university-affiliated hospital in an urban area of Iran. We interviewed 10 mental health nurses to capture in detail their experiences in psychiatric units, and the approach developed by Diekelmann et al. was employed to analyse the data. Four themes and five sub-themes were identified: ‘being engaged with patients’ (sub-themes: ‘struggle for monitor/control’, ‘safety/security concerns’, ‘supporting physiological and emotional needs’), ‘being competent’, ‘altruistic care’ and ‘facing difficulties and challenges’ (sub-themes: ‘socio-cultural’ and ‘organizational challenges’). The results provide valuable insights and greater understanding of the professional experiences of psychiatric nurses in Iran, and indicate the need for a stable and responsible organizational structure for those nurses who are expected to manage patient care in psychiatric wards.