Become a qualified
mental health nurse

Mental health nursing is a unique interpersonal process, which promotes and maintains behaviours that contribute to integrated functioning for individuals and communities.

Mental health nursing is therapeutic in itself in the caring, honest and trusting relationship it conveys. Mental health nursing embodies the concept of caring by supporting clients who are unable to maintain mental, social or physical health functions for themselves and empowers the client to take an active role in self-advocacy and self-care.

Caring extends to self and peers, as an active factor in promoting mental health.

What is a mental health nurse?

A mental health nurse is a registered nurse who holds a recognised specialist qualification in mental health (nursing).

Taking a holistic approach, guided by evidence, the mental health nurse works in collaboration with people who have mental health issues, their family and community, towards recovery as defined by the individual.

The scope of practice of mental health nurses in Australia encompasses a wide range of nursing roles, functions, responsibilities, accountabilities, activities and creativities, modalities and innovations. It is founded upon a process of ethical decision-making.

This diversity is fundamental to promoting optimal physical and mental health, prevention physical and mental illness, and providing therapeutic interventions and treatment to support the physical and mental health preferences and needs of individuals, communities and population groups.

Steps towards becoming a mental health nurse

With an undergraduate degree in nursing, you can register to practice as a nurse and work in most mental health settings.

However, to become a specialist mental health nurse, you need to undertake postgraduate study in mental health nursing at Graduate Diploma or Masters Level. Find out more about postgraduate mental health nursing study.

Specialist mental health nurses may also undertake additional training in specific therapies, such as couple and family therapy. Mental Health Nurses are in demand across Australia. Scholarships to study mental health nursing are available through the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) and through each State and Territory Department of Health.


Looking to study mental health nursing at the postgraduate level? MyUniversity provides students with a broad range of information about Australian universities and other higher education providers.

Before searching the MyUniversity website, please note: nurses wishing to study mental health nursing with a view to being awarded a credential need to undertake a graduate diploma, postgraduate diploma, or master in mental health nursing only. Graduate Certificates, or courses in mental health that aren't specifically mental health nursing, will not lead to a Credential being awarded.

Use the links to the left to learn more about postgraduate courses.