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What is a mental health nurse and how do you become one?


Have you ever considered a career as a mental health nurse? (Picture: Getty)

This week it’s Mental Health Awareness week, which makes it a perfect time to consider the work that goes into being a mental health nurse.

Being a mental health nurse is challenging work, but highly rewarding for those that dedicate themselves to such a calling.

If you have ever considered a career as a mental health nurse, here is everything you need to know…

What is a mental health nurse?

This week marks Mental Health Awareness week (Picture: Getty)

Mental health nurses are responsible for planning and supporting mental health care in patients who suffer from a range of issues including anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

Much of the role revolves around building relationships with patients, their families and other carers, working together to put together the best care plan possible.

Mental health nurses often work in hospitals on a psychiatric ward, in a community health centre, at care homes or directly in someone’s home.

They are often part of a team that is made up of GPs, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, art therapists and healthcare assistants.

How do you become a mental health nurse?

The main route to becoming a mental health nurse is by getting a degree in mental health care.

You’ll need five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, Maths and a science, and two or three A-levels (or equivalent), including at least one science or health-related subject, like Psychology.

If you already have a degree, you might be able to study for a postgraduate qualification. 

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

Alternatively, you can do a nursing degree or nursing associate apprenticeship.

You can volunteer to lend an ear to those that need someone to talk to (Picture: Getty)

What is forensic mental health nursing?

Forensic mental health nursing is the treatment of the mental health issues in convicted criminals.

Much of the care is focused around the assessment and management of risk, for both the individual themselves and the people around them.

Can I volunteer to help mental health charities?

Many charities offer you the chance to volunteer to be help with mental health care in your community.

Charities such as Heads Together and Samaritans have sign up pages where you can volunteer to be a helpful ear for those who need someone to talk to during hard times.

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