How to become a mental health nurse
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- a specialist course run by a professional body
You can do a degree in mental health nursing approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. You might be able to study another area of nursing alongside mental health nursing.
You might be able 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.
You might be able to join the second year of a nursing degree if you already have a degree in:
- a health-related subject
- life sciences
- social work
Full-time courses usually take 3 years.
You can also train as a mental health nurse in the armed forces. You can find more information at:
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
You might be able to do a degree apprenticeship in nursing if you work in a healthcare setting like a hospital.
The degree apprenticeship takes around 4 years and is a mix of academic study and on-the-job training.
You'll need the support of your employer to do a degree apprenticeship.
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
You'll find it helpful to get some experience before you apply for nurse training.
- get some experience working in healthcare
- volunteer with a charity that offers mental health services
- get advice from the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust
- find volunteering opportunities through the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Do IT
If you're already a registered nurse, you might be able to take an 18-month mental health nursing conversion course to become a mental health nurse.
You'll need to speak to your employer if you want to take this route.
- you'll need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council
You'll be expected to understand how the NHS values apply in your work when applying for a course or apprenticeship.
You can find advice about working and training as a nurse from the Royal College of Nursing and Health Careers.