Mental Health Nursing

mental health nurse

Take your career to the next level: specialise in Mental Health Nursing at Sydney Nursing School. Our Mental Health Nursing programs are offered at master’s, graduate diploma and graduate certificate levels. The latter two are embedded within the master’s degree, meaning you can choose to study the program over a duration which suits you best.

These programs provide registered nurses with the skills and attributes necessary to provide sophisticated, complex care to patients facing mental health conditions. It is designed for nurses who already have some experience of the mental health environment.

Learning is designed to equip registered nurses with the knowledge, skills and confidence to become a leader in mental health nursing. It may help you to meet criteria necessary for recognition as a mental health nurse by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.

What impact can I have as a mental health nurse?

Around 45% of Australians will experience a mental illness during adolescence or adulthood.

Mental health nurses play a critical role in supporting individuals and their carers. Making up the largest part of the mental health workforce in Australia, they lead the way in the prevention, planning and delivery of mental health care.

Why study at Sydney Nursing School?

  • Build the professional practice capabilities needed for leadership in mental health nursing.
  • Further develop your research skills, enabling you to make evidence-based decisions, opening the door to a PhD at Sydney Nursing School.
  • Enhance your specialty knowledge, clinical expertise and therapeutic skills, immediately applying what you learn in class to your professional practice.
  • Join our global community of influential students, staff and alumni, building your professional network as you study alongside academics and peers from the mental health community.
  • Choose how to fit study into your life with full-time and part-time options, as well as self-paced online study for some components of the program.

How will I learn?

Already have a graduate certificate? We may be able to offer credit for previous graduate study in your field.

  • Graduate certificate: Study over one year part-time
  • Graduate diploma: Study over one year full-time or two years part-time
  • Master's program: Study over eighteen months full-time, or two and a half years part-time.

These programs are delivered via:

  • Flexible, self-paced online study, allowing you to fit study around other commitments
  • Face-to-face on-campus study days for each unit of study.

On-Campus Study Days

Compulsory attendance at face-to-face study days is an integral part of the course. These intensive study days offer students real-time support from lecturers and clinical experts and provide opportunities for sharing experiences with peers and growing professional networks.

There are four study days per unit of study, per semester. The part-time study load is two units of study per semester which means there are eight study days per semester to attend. These are generally offered in a block of four days twice a semester, in March/May and August/September. To give you time to plan your study leave, the Postgraduate Study Day Timetable is posted on the Sydney Nursing School website in November of the preceding year.

What will I study?

Graduate certificate
The graduate certificate builds on your existing knowledge and skills, supporting you to use evidence to inform clinical judgement and develop innovative models of care.

During your study, you will have opportunity to critically explore the lived experience, issues and needs of specific populations experiencing or caring for a person with mental illness.

You will consider mental health promotion, prevention, intervention, management and treatment strategies within the contexts of broad socio-political issues, ethico-legal aspects, theoretical foundations and recovery-focused approaches. You will look at the theory and philosophy behind psychotherapeutic and pharmacological approaches to treatment.

Graduate diploma
The graduate diploma offers the opportunity to further develop the intra- and interpersonal skills necessary to maintain effective clinical and professional relationships, enabling personal growth. You will also explore ways to enhance individual aspects of resilience and emotional intelligence. As well as the graduate certificate content, you will explore professional issues such as simulated education techniques, quality and safety frameworks, contemporary leadership and research. You will explore further, the potential for expanding the scope of your practice as you carry out a clinical project on an advanced nursing practice issue relevant to your Mental Health practice.

Master’s program
Building on the graduate certificate and diploma content, this program ends in a six month capstone project, offering two options for study: the first option facilitates an examination of the professional and political context of your dream job and the development of your professional portfolio; the second option is to undertake a supervised research project, in the form of an integrative literature review, allowing an in-depth exploration of an area that you feel passionate about. This second option may also provide a pathway to a PhD at Sydney Nursing School.

Next steps: Course details and planning your study