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A Career Guide To Working As A Mental Health Nurse 

Published: Friday 19th June 2020

Jobs in mental health nursing are in high demand as the number of people who face mental health issues is growing. Various countries are struggling to deal with their citizens increasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Mental health issues are so intense that studies reveal, by the year 2030 the cost to face the problem could hit $16 trillion.  By the year 2021, the Government plans to create 21,000 new mental health nurse jobs, meaning there has never been a better time to train as a Registered Mental Health Nurse (RMHN).  

So, how do you become a mental health nurse? Find out everything you need to know in our career guide:

How to Become a Mental Health Nurse? 

Young female mental health nurse talking to female adult patient, smiling and comforting them.

friendly young nurse talking to senior patient

RMHN job responsibilities include helping individuals recover and manage their psychological issues. This assistance can help patients live a fulfilling and positive life.  To become a RMHN, you need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). It is a regulatory body that looks at your qualifications and deems you fit to practice as a nurse in the UK. However, to be eligible for registration, you should hold a nursing degree. 

There are over 60 universities in the UK offering mental health nursing degrees with plenty of courses to choose from. The academic requirements to gain entry are minimum of five GCSEs grade between A-level to C, including English, maths and science, plus at least two A-levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications.  

Alternate Routes to Mental Health Nursing 

Female doctor with stethoscope writing "Mental Health" . Hand holding pen isolated on white. Medical background.

A-Level entry to University is the most common route, however, each university sets its own requirements, so there are alternative avenues as well. If you have not achieved the desired grades, there are various other qualifications that can help you bag a place at universities such as Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers, OCR Cambridge Technicals, Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma qualifications, International Baccalaureate (IB) and Access Courses.  After your successful completion of the degree, you can register with the NMC and become a register mental health nurse.  

Key Skills Required 

As mental health nurses look after people suffering from mental health conditions, there would be times when they don’t listen or understand what you are trying to explain. So staying calm in such situations and able to think an alternative way is a trait you need. You will also need to have a number of other skills including good communication and observational skills as well as emphatic nature.

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What Are The Types Of Nursing Jobs Available in Mental Health? 

As a mental health nurse, you will have plenty of choices when it comes to deciding how and where you want to work. Settings you can choose to work in include:

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – This offers inpatient acute services roles and community-based positions.  

Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICU) – This setting offers a secure environment to help patients with conditions that cannot be managed in the acute ward. 

Specialist Units – In this setting you work with patients with very specific conditions like eating disorder.  

GP Surgery – Provide expert support to community patients.  

Prisons – You can work in an open prison, high-security units, women’s prison or young offenders institute helping offenders deal with psychological issues.  

Care Home or Community Care Centre – Many care homes also employ mental health nurses to provide specialist care on demand.  

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Where Can I Find RMHN Jobs Near Me? 

Many people need care round the clock, so depending on the role, mental health nurses may be required to work shifts and earn a good salary. However, the salary in most settings depends on your experience, additional qualifications, location and whether you work in the NHS or private healthcare. The NHS has an Agenda of Change pay structure that clearly defines pay bands such as:  Newly qualified nurses salary range from £21,692 to £28,180. Experienced nurses salary ranges from £26,041 to £40,964. The highest-paid position is Nurse Consultant with salaries ranging from £39,632 to £47,559. 

For more information on working as a mental health nurse and apprenticeships in the NHS see here. For a wide range of jobs in healthcare download the Zoek app or visit Zoek UK.  

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