Mental health nurses can help now

Tuesday 26 July 2022

The Australian College of Mental Nurses (ACMHN) is calling on both federal and state governments to better utilise mental health nurses in light of the results of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) National Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey.

The survey found Australians are experiencing high levels of mental ill-health, with roughly 8.6 million Australians aged 16-85 experiencing a mental disorder at some time in their life and 4.2 million people having experienced a 12-month mental disorder. However, only 3.4 million people saw a health professional for their mental health in 2020-21.

“What this survey shows is a large number of Australians are dealing with mental ill-health. Whilst there are many qualified mental health clinicians out there, we are hearing it is increasingly difficult to secure an appointment,” ACMHN CEO Stephen Jackson said.

“As such, we are calling for Credentialed Mental Health Nurses (CMHNs) to be given the tools to better support those with moderate and complex needs, thereby lightening the load on the Australian healthcare system.”

CMHNs are highly skilled, therapy-trained mental health clinicians who have experience and qualifications equal to other mental health professionals, and have undergone assessment by the ACMHN. However, CMHNs can only provide very limited services under Medicare, making it harder for them to work independently and help the ‘missing middle’ - Australians who are too unwell for primary care, but not unwell enough for state-based services.

“This is a major omission that needs to be addressed in government initiatives to rebuild the Australian mental health system from the ground up,” ACMHN Interim President, Professor John Hurley said.

“CMHNs are able to provide the highest standard of holistic care and understand how physical and mental health interact. They are ready, they are willing, let them help.”

Prior to the 2022 federal election the ACMHN released its pre-election submission, which outlined the ways in which the Federal Government could better utilise CMHNs. We stand ready to help implement these recommendations to ensure the results of the next ABS survey focussing on mental health show that more Australians have spoken to a mental health professional, and fewer people are living with mental ill-health.

For further comment, please contact the Communications Team via


Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release, mental health nursing

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