What mental health nurses do

Mental health nurses in Australia fulfill a wide range of roles, functions, and responsibilities based on a process of ethical decision-making. This diversity is fundamental to promoting optimal physical and mental health, preventing physical and mental illness, and providing therapeutic interventions and treatment to support physical and mental health preferences.

What is a mental health nurse?

A mental health nurse is a registered nurse who holds a recognised specialist qualification in mental health nursing. Mental health nurses:


with a number of health care providers


care for the consumer


consumers and their families during life crises and transition periods

Respond quickly

and flexibly to work with consumers for the duration of care


about mental health maintenance and restoration

Work in various settings

across the full range of clinical and service settings

Provide therapy

with a range of different methods and approaches

Work anywhere

in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas providing vital support

The care mental health nurses provide is:


Takes into consideration the holistic needs of the consumer

Consumer focused

MHNs work with consumers to meet recovery goals as defined by them

Informed by context

Looks at the consumer's lived experience in partnership with their family and community

Based on knowledge & experience

MHNs have the qualifications, skills, and experience to provide high-quality care in all contexts

Meet a mental health nurse

Mental health nurses work in a variety of settings, from hospitals to private practices to government departments. In these stories, College members tell us what motivates them, the challenges they face, and how they help the community.

When Decades Can Feel Like Months

Reflecting on nearly 43 years in nursing, James Houghton's journey shows early aspirations of becoming a horse-riding instructor to embracing a career path that nurtures his love for helping people with mental health challenges and his passion for horses.

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An unexpected mental health nursing journey

In his story, Brent Hayward talks about his unusual career working in a government department as a mental health nurse, and how his qualifications in have helped him shape government policy to achieve better outcomes for consumers.

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Supporting mental health nurses

In this story, Kate Currey discusses how her love of mental health nursing quickly developed and a couple of challenges she’s faced along the way.

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The challenges of mental health nursing in rural Australia

In her story Beverly Duncan talks about the people who inspired her to study, how her problem-solving skills gained from working at many medical centres aid her in overcoming the challenges of working in a remote area, and the unexpected silver lining of COVID-19.

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