Home » Healthcare » Nursing » Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing Online

Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing Online

Qualify to be a mental health nurse with a relatively short postgraduate course online.

Nurse checking notes at desk


If you are a nurse looking to gain specialist qualifications in the mental health field, we strongly recommend you consider an online Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing. You'll gain the postgraduate qualifications needed to be acknowledged as a specialist, opening doors to higher-level roles. Additionally, graduates have the option to continue their studies towards a graduate diploma or master's degree.

The four-subject course targets both recent nursing graduates and nurses working in relevant clinical settings who lack formal postgraduate qualifications. In under eight months of part-time study, you can earn highly regarded credentials, qualifying you for higher pay under public service enterprise agreements for nurses.

Students explore crucial topics such as acute psychological health, physical healthcare integration, behaviour change support, and lifespan wellness. By expanding your knowledge and skills in this field, you will be better able to manage patients and provide nursing leadership.

Related: Graduate Certificate in Nursing Online Courses

Qualifications to Be a Mental Health Nurse

As a registered nurse, you need relevant postgraduate qualifications to become a mental health nurse (MHN). Along with clinical experience, a Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing qualifies you for this role.

This requirement aligns with standards for most nursing specialisations, where a postgraduate qualification is essential to be considered a Clinical Nurse Specialist or similar. The Australian Qualifications Framework lists graduate certificates, graduate diplomas, master's degrees, and doctorates as potential pathways. Postgraduate qualifications are essential to join the highest paid types of nurses.

While a graduate certificate qualifies you to work as an MHN, continued study to achieve a postgraduate diploma or higher is necessary if you seek the designation of Credentialed Mental Health Nurse (CMHN). Additionally, you would need to gain further clinical experience to validate your expertise. After meeting these criteria, you could apply to the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) for credentialing.

Related: Top 5 Nursing Mental Health Courses in Australia

Online Courses

Here are two excellent options to advance your career in mental health nursing. Designed for working professionals, both programs are offered entirely online. Graduates can progress to a graduate diploma or a master's degree. With additional study, you could obtain a Master of Mental Health Nursing from Southern Cross University or a Master of Advanced Nursing (Mental Health) from UTS.

SCU Online - Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing

The Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing from Southern Cross University offers Registered Nurses an 8-month program entirely online, ensuring you can balance study with work commitments. Choose four subjects from a list of six, covering topics such as contemporary mental health, addressing acute issues, navigating mental health in diverse settings, integrating physical healthcare, understanding well-being across the lifespan, and supporting behaviour change. With experienced instructors guiding you, you’ll gain practical skills relevant to your current role. And if you’re thinking about future studies, this course sets you up to transition into a graduate diploma or master's degree.

UTS Online - Graduate Certificate in Mental Health

The UTS Online Graduate Certificate in Mental Health is an 8-month part-time course designed for registered nurses and other healthcare professionals seeking to enhance their expertise. Completely online, you’ll engage with four critical subjects: Specialty Clinical Practice, Collaborative and Integrative Mental Health Care, Trauma-informed Care and Practice, and Leading Health and Social Care. This program not only broadens your knowledge but also acts as a stepping stone towards the Master of Advanced Nursing. With flexible intakes and a streamlined structure, it’s an ideal choice for nurses aiming to excel in the care of patients with psychological issues.

Related: Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Career Options

Demand for Mental Health Nurses

Man in white shirt smiling outside commercial building

Demand for mental health nurses is high, with this part of the healthcare workforce growing faster than average. Awareness around psychological well-being is increasing, and more Australians are seeking support for conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders, and substance use disorders. MHNs provide essential care in this context, with their specialised skills being crucial for the welfare of individuals and communities.

Between 2013 and 2021, the number of registered nurses working in mental health in Australia grew by 25%, outpacing overall growth of the nursing workforce. This trend highlights the specific need for psychology-related expertise in the healthcare sector. Mental health nursing offer a unique, personal approach to care, which is integral to treating patients with psychological conditions.

In terms of salary, MHNs are well-compensated, earning about 10% more than the general nurses. The average annual salary stands at $90,566. The sector’s growth ensures job stability, while the nature of the work offers a fulfilling and impactful career.

Source: Are Mental Health Nurses in Demand in Australia?

Comparison with a Graduate Diploma

Nurse assists elderly woman walk

A Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing is a longer course, consisting of eight subjects compared to the four subjects usually found in a graduate certificate. To enter either course, students need a Bachelor of Nursing or equivalent or higher qualification.

The Graduate Diploma might have a slight edge in employment prospects and qualification allowances due to its extended length. However, both qualifications are highly regarded and fall under Level 8 in the Australian Qualifications Framework. The numerous benefits of a nursing graduate certificate extend to the graduate diploma, with some advantages enhanced by the additional study.

Within the mental health nursing field, there is an opportunity to become a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse (CMHN). To achieve this, you need at least a postgraduate diploma. A grad cert is insufficient in this case. Note that the graduate diploma and master's courses at Southern Cross University are accredited by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) and can make you eligible to become a CMHN.

SCU Online - Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing

Southern Cross University offers an online Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing, accredited by the ACMHN. Registered nurses can apply for Credentialed MHN status after graduating, provided they meet additional criteria. The program covers contemporary and acute psychological health, evidence-based practice, professional portfolio development, psychological well-being across the lifespan, and physical healthcare. Students also study behaviour change support and patient care in various settings. The affordable course is delivered through a user-friendly online platform. FEE-HELP loans to cover tuition fees are available.