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 & Midwifery Council.
Some degree courses let you study another area of nursing alongside mental health nursing.
You can train as a mental health nurse in the armed forces. You can find more information at:
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
- life sciences
- social work
Full-time courses usually take 3 years.
You may be able to get additional student financial support through the NHS Learning Support Fund.
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 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.
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 paid or voluntary experience in healthcare, or with a charity that offers mental health services, before you apply for nurse training.
You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.
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 of nursing. You'll need to speak to your employer if you want to do this.
- you'll need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council
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.
When applying for degree courses or apprenticeships, you'll be expected to show an understanding of how NHS values apply in your work.