Why You Should Work in Mental Health Nursing

Sketch of a male nurse

If you have good communication skills and you are interested in human behaviour, mental health nursing could be the right career option for you. Mental health or psychiatric nursing is a specialised field focused on supporting patients to achieve their recovery goals.

It includes both registered and enrolled nurses whose main area of nursing is in the psychiatric or mental health field helping people with issues such as anxiety, depression, addictions, eating disorders, schizophrenia and psychosis.


You can also work in crisis response, which is for those who have experienced a sudden traumatic event like a natural disaster, as well as early intervention for those at risk of developing mental illness.

Working in mental health is often different to what many people expect it to be. Stigma around mental health is an issue is many countries and those working as a mental health nurse are in a powerful position to combat that view.

Working in mental health often involves formulating treatment plans or management plans, and linking patients to referral services. It also often involves advocating for patients and helping them communicate their needs and wishes.

Mental health nursing encompasses a wide range of roles and psychiatric nurses can further specialise in such areas as perinatal or infant mental health, forensic mental health, drug and alcohol, child and adolescent, aged, and clinical supervision working with diverse families from all backgrounds. There is a lot of opportunity to practice autonomously and be creative, so good judgement is an important skill when working in mental health.

Those already working in mental health consider it to be a privilege to work with people who are in one of the most vulnerable stages of their life. It can sometimes be intense and a big responsibility but nurses describe it as rewarding and they enjoy the relationships they develop with patients, facing challenges together.

Working as a mental health nurse could involve working with inpatients in hospital, in post-admission clinics, as part of a crisis team, in nursing homes, short-stay units in emergency, and triage.

It could also involve visiting people in their homes in the community to try and engage them in services. They often work with external agencies such as the police, as well as working closely with families and GPs.

Mental health nurses are in demand in many countries, including Australia which offers scholarships through the Department of Health and Ageing, and directly via the Department of Health in each State and Territory. If you are interested in securing a position, please browse our selection of mental health nursing jobs in Australia.