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Mental health nurses

2-minute read

If you or someone you know has a mental illness, then you will probably get to know a mental health nurse. Mental health nurses usually work as part of a wider team of health professionals.

What is a mental health nurse?

A mental health nurse is a registered nurse who specialises in working with people who have a mental illness like depression, postnatal depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Mental health nurses might have also completed further study in mental health recognised by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.

What does a mental health nurse do?

A mental health nurse works with someone to help them manage their life. That might be specifically about their mental health, but it might include helping with any physical, social, cultural and spiritual needs.

Where do mental health nurses work?

Mental health nurses work in many different places, including the community, psychiatric hospitals, mental health units in hospitals and nursing homes.

For some people, a mental health nurse is their main contact with the health system.

How can a mental health nurse help me?

The mental health nurse can:

  • work with you to plan your recovery
  • help educate you, your family and your doctor about your mental illness and its treatment
  • support you to talk to your doctor about mental health
  • provide counselling and strategies to deal with emotional difficulties and stress
  • help you deal with your symptoms and any medication you take
  • link with health professionals involved in your care, like your doctor, a psychologist or psychiatrist, to make sure you get the most appropriate treatment
  • help you access support services from Services Australia, or housing and community programs
  • talk to your family and support people, if you want
  • help you review your mental health care plan with your doctor

What if I am in a crisis?

A mental health nurse can provide help in a crisis. They can also help you find more help if needed, whether that’s in person or by phone or online.

Your mental health nurse always maintains your safety as a priority, and they may have you checked over in a hospital if they feel you are at risk of harming yourself or others.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2020

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