Registered nurse (mental health)

Also known as:

  • Psychiatric Nurse

What they do

Mental health nurses provide care, counselling and support for people suffering from mental illness. Whether caring for those with short-term illnesses such as depression or phobias, or more serious problems such as schizophrenia or personality disorders, mental health nurses ensure that these people are able to heal in a safe and supportive environment. They organise and facilitate activities either for individual patients or for groups that assist in personal development, observe the condition of individual patients, administer medication, facilitate and run therapy groups, and liaise with other mental health professionals about the most appropriate treatment for patients.

Specialisations include: Psychopaedic Nurse (NZ), Registered Nurse (Child and Adolescence Mental Health), Registered Nurse (Drug and Alcohol), Registered Nurse (Psychiatric Rehabilitation), Registered Nurse (Psychogeriatric Care)

Working conditions

Mental health nurses work in mental health clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities. They may be required to do shift work including weekends and public holidays, and their working times may be irregular. They may be required to work with people who are suffering from emotionally debilitating conditions who are unpredictable in their behaviour and may be aggressive. They may be exposed to bodily fluids. Mental health nurses may also be expected to travel to visit clients in their homes.

Tools and technologies

Mental health nurses use office equipment such as computers, telephones and fax machines. They administer medication, and may require a drivers license in order to visit patients.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a qualified mental health nurse, you need to study nursing at university.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Once you are qualified as a registered nurse, you can complete a specialised postgraduate course to become a mental health nurse. Alternatively, you need to have three years' experience working in mental health.

Required registration and licensing

To work as mental health nurse in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. You will also need to hold a current Working with Children Check issued by the Working with Children Screening Unit of the Department of Communities.