Progressing from a General Nurse to a Mental Health Nurse

Progressing from a General Nurse to a Mental Health Nurse

The role of a mental health nurse is incredibly important. It involves supporting a patient’s recovery and helping them to live a fulfilling life. Through this role, you can make a real difference to a person’s life – it’s all about building effective relationships with the patients who use mental health services – helping them to understand their situation and to get the support they need.

But, how do you become a mental health nurse in the UK?

This blog will offer advice on how to begin your mental health nursing career in the UK and will also explore the differences between this role and general nursing.

How do you become a mental health nurse?

There are a few different routes to becoming a mental health nurse in the UK.

The main route is through a degree course at university (entry requirements will vary depending on your study preferences) – it’s possible to complete a nursing degree that focuses on mental health nursing. Alternatively, you can qualify and even work as a registered general nurse first and then complete a post-registration course in mental health nursing.

Along with a university degree, you can become a mental health nurse through nurse degree apprenticeship and nursing associate apprenticeships.

What are the main differences between general nursing and mental health nursing?  

Mental health nursing may present a variety of different pressures, compared to general nursing. The challenges can often start with the patient themselves and their symptoms. E.G., if a patient comes to hospital with a physical injury, it is clear what the treatment needs to be – the patient can see and feel what their injury is. It is not always this simple when it comes to the support mental health patients need.  

In addition, general nurses may work in a hospital or community setting, whereas mental health nurses might be working in mental health facilities – either with psychiatrists, or in the mental health unit of a hospital.

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