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Medical

Mental health nurse

Mental health nurses work in hospitals and the community, to support people with mental health issues.

Annual Salary

£24,907 to £44,503

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 38 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on shifts

6%
Future employment

There will be 6% more Mental health nurse jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

As part of your daily duties, you may:

  • assess and supporting patients
  • encourage patients to take part in role play, art, drama and discussion as therapies
  • provide physical care, if the patient is too old or ill to look after themselves
  • give medication

Working environment

You may need to wear a uniform.

You could work at a health centre, at an adult care home, in an NHS or private hospital, at a client's home, at a GP practice or in a prison.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • a specialist course run by a professional body
University

You can do a degree in mental health nursing approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

Some degree courses let you study another area of nursing alongside mental health nursing.

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

Full-time courses usually take 3 years.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, including a science, or a level 3 diploma or access to higher education in health, science or nursing
For more information
Apprenticeship

You may be able to do a degree apprenticeship in nursing if you work in a healthcare setting like a hospital.

The apprenticeship takes around 4 years and is a mix of academic study and on-the-job training.

You must be supported by your employer to take this route.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in healthcare, or with a charity that offers mental health services, before you apply for nurse training.

Other routes

You may be able to qualify through an 18-month mental health nursing conversion course if you're already a registered nurse in a different branch. You'll need to speak to your employer if you want to do this.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

It's possible to do a degree in mental health nursing and social work. You'll need to check that the course is recognised by the relevant professional bodies. Course providers can advise you on this.

Further information

You'll find more advice about working and training in nursing from the Royal College of Nursing and Health Careers.

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With experience you could become a sister or ward manager and be responsible for running a ward or team of nurses in the community. You could go on to become matron or director of nursing.

With further study and experience, you could become an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or nurse consultant. Consultants work directly and independently with patients, carry out research and develop and give training.

You could also train in health visiting, become self-employed or work overseas.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • customer service skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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