Mental Health Nursing

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Mental Health Nursing?

Mental health nurses are responsible for planning and providing support and medical and nursing care to people who have a range of mental health issues. Mental health nurses support people with issues ranging from anxiety and depression to personality and eating disorders.

Mental health nurses work as part of a team of professional and medical staff that includes doctors, social workers, therapists, and psychiatrists. They work in a range of settings, including hospitals and people’s homes.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Mental Health Nursing courses in the following subject areas:

  • BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Nursing – The study of Mental Health Nursing as a specialist field within the health care profession.
  • Refining Professional Practice and Knowledge in Mental Health Nursing – Gain the knowledge and skills of professional practice in mental health nursing.
  • Developing Mental Health Nursing Practice – Develop your knowledge, practical skills, and evidence-based care in mental health practice.
  • Refining Professional Practice and Knowledge in Mental Health Nursing – The study of the skills, knowledge, and values to prepare for Mental Health nursing.

Studying Mental Health Nursing in college

Many full-time Mental Health Nursing courses run anywhere from 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or work shadowing. Having relevant work experience is useful when applying for courses or jobs as it shows your interest in and dedication to the profession. This can include community work or voluntary work in a hospital or with a mental health charity. Any experience that involves caring for others is useful.

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals.

Career options

After completing a course in Mental Health Nursing you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of Mental Health care. Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you work in a facility with shifts. A nurse working in the community may work in a more self-directed way than those who work in inpatient settings and once qualified the career as a Mental Health Nurse has the potential to be incredibly varied.

You’ll typically work 37.5 hours per week. This may include evenings, weekends, and bank holidays. In residential and hospital settings, 24-hour care is usually required, meaning shift work is likely. If you work in the community you’re more likely to have regular hours, although you may need to carry out on-call duties for emergencies. Travel during the working day is common for community nurses.

Mental Health Nurses may work in a variety of settings such as inpatient and community facilities, medical centers, schools, prisons, undertaking research, or universities. Mental Health Nurses work with individuals across the lifespan from specialist perinatal services, child and adolescent, working-age individuals, older adults, and later life dementia care. There can be an element of personal danger and the potential for violent behavior, although you’ll be taught how to identify and diffuse building tension. However, the role of a Mental Health Nurse can be very rewarding and fulfilling.

Related jobs include:

  • Mental Health Nurse
  • Matron
  • Director of Nursing
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Consultant

Further study

After completing a course in Mental Health Nursing you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas.

There are various routes you can take to progress your career as a mental health nurse. You could become a specialist nurse, either working with a specific client group such as offenders or children and young people or with a specific area such as alcohol or substance misuse, forensic psychology, or psychotherapeutic interventions.

There are some opportunities to progress further into posts such as advanced nurse practitioner, nurse manager, or nurse consultant, which may also open up opportunities to work in a more specialist role. For these positions, you’re likely to need further qualifications.


Are there any particular qualities you need to study Mental Health Nursing?

You should have excellent communication and listening skills. Be able to gain clients’ confidence and trust. Be good at teamwork and be able to work on your initiative. Be compassionate, sensitive, and emotionally strong.

A Mental Health Nurse should have excellent interpersonal skills, be a good listener and be able to set boundaries.

Where can I study Mental Health Nursing?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • The first record of nurses dates all the back to 300 A.D. in the Roman Empire, but it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that nursing had many advances and became more widespread.
  • On average, nurses walk four to five miles every shift 12-hour shift they work. Compare that to the average person who only walks about 2.5 miles on average.
  • Florence Nightingale was instrumental in developing many of the hygiene and sanitation practices now used in modern nursing.
  • The famous poet and essayist, Walt Whitman, worked as a volunteer nurse during the Civil War. Some of his works, such as “The Wound Dresser” and “Memoranda During the War,” reflect on his battlefield nursing experience.


Mariza Halliday

Biomedical, Health and Life Sciences
Clinical Research Courses


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