How to become a mental health nurse

Mental health nurses provide care and support for people facing mental health problems. Find out how to become a mental health nurse.

What is a mental health nurse?

A mental health nurse is a registered nurse that specialises in helping people with mental health problems. This could be in a hospital setting or in the community. You will be one of the first points of contact for patients and provide ongoing support. You will be involved in their day-to-day care.

You could work with a range of patients experiencing different mental health problems, from anxiety to psychosis. You will work as part of a team providing care. That could include GPs, doctors, psychiatrists, social workers and other mental health nurses.

Working as a mental health nurse can be a challenging, but rewarding career. You will often be faced with people in distress, which can be difficult. On the other hand, you can make a real difference to people's lives. Many mental health nurses find this incredibly fulfilling.

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I was at my lowest point when I was sectioned and met a nurse who transformed my life. She helped me to reflect and realise that I can use my own experiences to help others in mental health crisis.
Mental health nursing graduate Adrian Craddock
Adrian Craddock
Mental health nursing graduate
Read more

What does a mental health nurse do?

Every day is different as a mental health nurse. Your role may vary according to the setting you work in or the patients you work with. Here is a general idea of what you may do:

  • Assess mental health patients
  • Build a relationship with patients
  • Talk to them about how they're feeling
  • Coordinate their care and medication
  • Monitor progress and watch for relapses
  • Refer patients for further care if needed
  • Administer medication
  • Liaise with GPs, social services and housing associations

What is a mental health nurse's salary?

A mental health nurse salary typically starts at Band 5, which is £28,407 - £34,581. You could earn more as you progress in your career. If you become a specialist or consultant nurse, you could even earn up to £70,000.

What skills do you need?

If you want to become a mental health nurse, your soft skills can be as important as formal qualifications.

Do you need a degree to become a mental health nurse?

You need a degree to become a registered mental health nurse. This is because you will work with people facing complex mental health issues. You therefore need expert knowledge and training to be able to provide care. 

Make sure that your degree is accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. This will allow you to become a registered mental health nurse. This is a requirement to work as a nurse in the UK.

Take a look at some of the mental health courses available at the University of Central Lancashire below.

Our Nursing with Registered Nurse (Mental Health) BSc will equip you with the skills you need to make a difference to people's lives. This course is split 50:50 between theoretical study and clinical placements. That means you can get hands-on experience treating patients, under the guidance of a registered nurse.

Our course is accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, so you can qualify as a registered mental health nurse. Students from the UK are eligible for a £5,000 NHS Learning Support Fund. You'll also be eligible for a specialist subject payment of £1,000 per year. This money doesn't have to be paid back.

Mental health nurse apprenticeship

The University of Central Lancashire also provide a mental health nurse apprenticeship. Our Nursing with Registered Nurse (Mental Health) Degree Apprenticeship allows you to work and earn a wage, whilst you study for a degree.

You will learn about the factors that can affect mental health, as well as your role in treatment. There is an emphasis on person-centred care, from planning to delivery. You will also complete placements, alongside working. This will give you a wealth of practical experience.

A degree apprenticeship is funded by your employer. That means you don't have to take out a student loan. 

Continuing Professional Development

You will need to take more mental health nurse courses throughout your career. These are called Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses. Mental health is a rapidly evolving field, with more research than ever. That means it is important to take mental health courses to stay up-to-date with the latest developments. These are normally paid for by your employer.

For example, some of the mental health CPD courses we offer are:

Where next

We hope this has helped you understand how to become a mental health nurse. Take a look at our courses below.