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Mental health nurses

4-minute read

If you or someone close to you is experiencing an emergency, or is at immediate risk of harm, call triple zero (000). To talk to someone now, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you or someone you know has a mental illness, then you may 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 specialises in working with people who have a mental illness, or mental health issues. These can include:

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?

Mental health nurses mostly work with people who have a mental illness. Mental health, physical health, and other aspects of life can all affect each other. So, mental health nurses work with people to help them manage their life. They may also assist someone who is managing or recovering from physical illness.

Where do mental health nurses work?

Mental health nurses work in many different places, including:

  • the community
  • mental health units in hospitals and nursing homes
  • psychiatric hospitals

Some general practices have mental health nurses. Mental health nurses can also visit you at home.

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

Mental health nurses can also work remotely, to help you over the phone, or online.

How can a mental health nurse help me?

The mental health nurse can:

To make sure you get the best treatment, a mental health nurse can also communicate with other health professionals involved in your care, like:

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. This can be:

  • in person
  • by phone or text
  • online

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

Resources and support

To speak with a mental health nurse, you can:

  • ask your doctor for a referral
  • ask about mental health nursing services at your local hospital

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses also provides a service to contact credentialed mental health nurses.

You can also contact mental health services in your state to receive support:

If you or someone you know is having a personal crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online.

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of harm, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

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

Last reviewed: August 2022

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