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Mental health nurse

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?

Mental health nurses support people with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, personality disorders, eating disorders, or drug and alcohol addiction. They aim to build good relationships with clients and their families so that everyone is involved in the therapy process.

This role could involve working with a variety of clients, or specialising and working with a particular group, such as adolescents or offenders. 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?

To work as a mental health nurse, you will need to complete a degree in nursing approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. A mental health nurse has to be sympathetic and non-judgmental, and you will need to be able to gain a patient’s trust as well as manage emotional situations.

You will also need to pass occupational health checks and background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork

Academic route

  • Five GCSEs (A-C), including English, maths and a science subject
  • Two or Three A levels, including at least one science or health-related subject

Essential qualifications

  • A degree in mental health nursing leading to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You will find most jobs in the NHS. You can also work in the private sector, for the prison service, with local authority social services, or with mental health charities. 

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