How much does a Mental Health Nurse make in Tennessee?

Average Mental Health Nurse Salary

High Confidence

$2,008/week

The average salary for a Mental Health Nurse in Tennessee is $2,008 per week. This is 19% lower than the US average of $2,386.

Estimate based on 193 active jobs in the last 90 days.

What is a Mental Health RN?

Mental health nurses, also called psychiatric mental health nurses, work with patients experiencing a wide range of conditions. PMH nursing is the fastest-growing non-physician specialty in healthcare, according to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, which makes them in demand in a wide range of settings. Mental health nurses may work at various inpatient and outpatient facilities, including psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, and federal, state, or local mental health facilities. Work setting can play a big role in salary for a mental health RN, along with several other factors.

Mental health nurses are registered nurses who specialize in caring for patients of all ages experiencing mental health issues, behavioral problems, and/or psychiatric disorders. They’re experts in mental health assessments and crisis intervention, including recognizing the signs of advancing mental illness. PMH nurses work closely with their patients, forming strong therapeutic relationships and helping them manage their mental illnesses and improve their quality of life.

To begin a basic mental health nursing role, you must first complete the education requirements to become a registered nurse. These requirements include completing an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a nursing program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). You must then pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed RN and complete Basic Life Support training and certification.

How a Mental Health RN salary is based

Mental health nurses must have a solid foundation in the behavioral sciences and advanced knowledge of the treatment of various psychiatric disorders. This knowledge comes from their nursing education and years of experience in the field. While gaining experience, they also develop additional skills, such as the skills to perform mental health assessments and perform crisis intervention when necessary. They also hone their communication and relationship-building skills, including sending and receiving verbal and non-verbal cues. Education, experience, and additional skills all make up some of the most important ways a mental health RN’s salary is based.

Education also comes into play during nursing school. Although becoming a mental health nurse only requires an associate degree, many employers prefer a bachelor’s degree. If a healthcare facility has an educational preference, it’s likely going to be reflected in how they base a PMH nurse’s salary. A mental health nurse’s base salary will be even higher if they’ve earned an advanced degree.

Because there are so many possible work settings, job location can play a major role in the base salary of a mental health RN. The geographical location of these facilities may play an even bigger role. Certain states have traditionally had higher base salaries than others, but these states also frequently have higher costs of living. Urban areas also usually pay more than rural areas, often simply because they have a bigger salary budget.

How to increase your Mental Health RN salary

Furthering your nursing education always helps boost your salary. As a mental health RN, consider earning your master’s degree with a mental health or psychiatric track. The advanced degree should increase your salary and help you pursue an advanced practice role as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). APRNs also earn higher pay, so this is another way to increase your salary. Make sure the PMHNP program is accredited and contains the necessary components to take the board certification exam. 

Studies show that certified nurses usually earn higher salaries than those who aren’t. Many nurses choose to earn Psychiatric–Mental Health Nursing board certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center to demonstrate superiority in the field and bump their pay. You can sit for this exam with an active RN license after practicing for the equivalent of two years full-time and completing a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice and 30 hours of continuing education in psychiatric-mental health nursing.

If you’ve earned your master’s, post-graduate certificate, or doctoral degree from an accredited psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner program that included at least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours and specific content and courses, the ANCC also offer the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Across the Lifespan) Certification (PMHNP-BC) exam. You must also have clinical training in at least two psychotherapeutic treatment modalities to sit for this exam.

What cities in Tennessee pay the most for Mental Health Nurse?

CityAverage Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
Johnson City, Tennessee$2,815$3,283
Columbia, Tennessee$2,420$2,835
Nashville, Tennessee$2,338$3,150
Knoxville, Tennessee$2,298$2,298
Louisville, Tennessee$2,269$2,309
Athens, Tennessee$2,217$2,217
Kingsport, Tennessee$1,989$2,326
Chattanooga, Tennessee$1,928$2,260
Jackson, Tennessee$1,907$2,100
Livingston, Tennessee$1,816$2,220

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How does the pay for Mental Health Nurses in Tennessee compare to nearby states?

Average Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
Missouri$2,727$4,444
Illinois$2,526$4,761
Georgia$2,373$4,550
Indiana$2,348$4,460
Alabama$2,305$4,010
Kentucky$2,296$4,651
North Carolina$2,244$5,292
Arkansas$2,112$4,440
Mississippi$1,974$3,775
South Carolina$1,865$3,523

Top Mental Health Nurse Jobs

View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Columbia, Tennessee
Stability Healthcare
3 days ago
ASAP13 wks3x12 hrsNights
$2,431/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Livingston, Tennessee
Stability Healthcare
3 days ago
ASAP13 wks3x12 hrsDays
$2,220/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Livingston, Tennessee
Stability Healthcare
a day ago
ASAP12 wks3x12 hrsNights
$2,217/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Livingston, Tennessee
Stability Healthcare
a day ago
ASAP12 wks3x12 hrsDays
$2,217/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested
View job details for Travel Nurse RN - PsychiatricStability Healthcare
Travel Nurse RN - Psychiatric
Athens, Tennessee
Stability Healthcare
a day ago
ASAP12 wks3x12 hrsNights
$2,217/wk
Travel contract
I'm interested

What are the highest paying Agencies for Mental Health Nurse jobs in Tennessee?

Average Weekly SalaryMax Weekly Salary
Titan Nurse Staffing$3,296$3,296
Assured Nursing$2,851$2,851
Synergy Medical Staffing$2,822$2,822
Cross Country Nurses$2,523$3,140
Access Healthcare$2,445$3,283
Focus Staff$2,436$3,004
Next Move Inc$2,345$2,808
Travel Nurse Across America$2,279$2,279
Ardor Health Solutions$2,210$2,880
IDR Healthcare$2,111$2,111