Direct-entry mental health nursing degree crucial to respond to mental health related issues in Australia

Thursday 3 December 2019


ACMHN welcome the recommendations outlined in the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report, in response to a review of mental health services in Australia, that:


  • the number of specialist mental health nurses practicing in Australia — in GP clinics, community health services, and aged care facilities — needs to significantly increase
  • numbers of specialist mental health nurses can be increased through the development of a three year direct entry (undergraduate) degree in mental health nursing, similar to that of midwifery, and
  • there is merit in the introduction of a specialist registration system for nurses with advanced qualifications in mental health.

Progressing the training and education framework for mental health nurses in Australia is timely and crucial, as those suffering from mental health continues to grow.


The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) National Health Survey reported increased rates of mental illness, including:

  • 13% of Australian adults are experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • 20.1% of Australian adults reported a mental or behavioural condition
  • 13.1% of Australian adults had an anxiety-related condition, and
  • 10.4% of Australian adults had depression or feelings of depression.

Midwifery has long been a specialised direct entry nursing degree. Midwives service a similar proportion of the population to those reporting to have mental health related issues. In the same year that the above-mentioned survey was released, 309,142 births were recorded, which was 13% of the population – comparable with those with mental health issues.


“In addition to the data available on mental health statistics, one only has to glance at the media each day to know that mental health in Australia is a growing issue and educating specialised practitioners to manage and treat patients is crucial,” said ACMHN Executive Director, Operations, Mr Stephen Jackson.


“We need to ensure that we are putting the measures in place to educate those who can support and care for Australians affected by mental health,” he continued.


The ACMHN and its members have been actively participating in the public hearings held by the Productivity Commission around Australian between 15 November and 9 December after submitting a submission to the enquiry.


For further comment, please contact ACMHN Executive Director, Operations, Mr Stephen Jackson on 1300 667 079 or at stephen.jackson@acmhn.org.


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