Psychiatric nurse practitioner urges mental health awareness

Jade Weaver, a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Mental Health Awareness Month is recognized each May in the United States.

According to Mental Health America, “In 2019, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 19.86% of adults experienced a mental illness, equivalent to nearly 50 million Americans. Over half of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 27 million adults in the U.S. who are going untreated. Over 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment.”

A stigma has existed around mental health and treatment. People are hesitant to seek assistance, and are also afraid to speak to family members, loved ones, and friends due to fear of feeling judged. Lack of access to mental health services leaves many people with an unmet need for treatment.

“Reducing the stigma of mental illness, and providing access to mental health services for people of all ages can empower people to live better lives thereby bringing them hope,” said Jade Weaver, a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (also referred to as a psychiatric nurse practitioner).

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) are advanced-practice registered nurses who provide comprehensive mental health care to patients suffering from behavioral problems and mental health disorders. Not only do PMHNPs provide diagnostic care and treatment, they also focus on psychiatric/mental health maintenance and wellness. They use both medicinal and therapeutic interventions in treatment plans to help patients.

A native Whartonian, Weaver was educated in the Wharton public schools. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Prairie View A&M University in 2006 with a major in health and a minor in sociology.

Weaver’s foundation in mental health began after graduation. She worked as a qualified mental health professional for Texana Center providing behavioral health services for children and adolescents. Knowing her passion has always been to care for others, she returned to college to pursue nursing. She received her vocational nursing degree (licensed vocational nurse) in 2008 from Wharton County Junior College. She obtained her Associate’s Degree in nursing (registered nurse) from Victoria College in 2011. She then went to obtain her bachelor of science in nursing in 2012 from University of Houston-Victoria.

She has worked for several psychiatric hospitals in Houston as a psychiatric registered nurse. She served as nursing director at a residential treatment program for adolescent and young adult women receiving mental health treatment. Other settings she has worked include outpatient, partial hospitalization program, intensive outpatient program, crisis center, psychiatric emergency room, and corrections.

She has experience as a psychiatric travel nurse traveling to different states providing care. Weaver returned to college to pursue her Master’s of Science in nursing degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 2020 to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

“Mental illness is not biased. It can affect anyone. Please do not neglect your mental health. It is vital and should be a priority,” she said.

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