Mental health nurses work in hospitals and communities, to support people with mental health issues.
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What does a mental health nurse do?

Your duties could involve:

  • assessing and supporting patients
  • encouraging patients to take part in role play, art, drama, and discussion, as therapies
  • physical care, if the patient is too old or ill to look after themselves
  • giving medication to patients

What do I need to do to become a mental health nurse?


You can do a degree in mental health nursing approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council. Some degree courses let you study another area of nursing alongside mental health nursing.

You may be able to join a nursing degree on the second year of a course if you already have a degree in:

  • a health-related subject
  • psychology
  • life sciences
  • social work

Full-time courses usually take three years.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need: 

  • five GCSEs 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths, and a science
  • two or three A levels,  including a science, or a level 3 diploma or access to higher education in health, science or nursing


You may be able to do a degree apprenticeship in nursing if you work in a healthcare setting like a hospital. The apprenticeship takes around four years, and is a mix of academic study and on-the-job training. You must be supported by your employer to take this route.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • four or five5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), and college qualifications like A levels for a degree apprenticeship.

Volunteering and experience

You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in healthcare, or with a charity that offers mental health services, before you apply for nurse training.

Other routes

You may be able to qualify through an 18-month mental health nursing conversion course if you're already a registered nurse in a different branch. You'll need to speak to your employer if you want to do this.


You'll need to pass enhanced background checks.


You'll need to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You could work at a health centre, at an adult care home, in an NHS or private hospital, at a client's home, at a GP practice or in a prison.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career opportunities

With experience you could become a sister or ward manager and be responsible for running a ward or team of nurses in the community. You could go on to become matron or director of nursing.

With further study and experience, you could become an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or nurse consultant. Consultants work directly and independently with patients, carry out research, and develop and give training.

You could also train in health visiting, become self-employed, or work overseas.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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