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Course summary

Turn your passion for mental health nursing into a career specialisation with this contemporary online course, the first in Australia to be directly constructed from the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses' National Framework for Postgraduate Studies in Mental Health Nursing.

This new course responds to contemporary mental health nursing research and policy and has been designed with the input of leading clinical and academic mental health nurses as well as consumers. It reflects the growing understanding that mental health nurses can provide specialist intervention in mental health teams across diverse settings.

Undertaking this course will enhance your clinical capabilities and theoretical knowledge of both current and future mental health nursing practice, for the benefit of mental health consumers, your professional discipline and yourself.

Each unit runs for seven weeks with six study periods per year and the course is offered exclusively online.

Please note: this course can be completed in two years of accelerated part-time study.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. This year we are joining the WHO in celebrating the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, by sharing the stories and successes of the Southern Cross nursing and midwifery community.

DurationLocationStudy Period


Two years of accelerated part-time study.

SCU Online1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Core units focus on contemporary mental health theory and practice, physical healthcare needs, evidence-based case formulation and common interventions within acute care contexts, in primary mental health as well contemporary applications of developmental psychology and psychological therapies. 

You will also choose an elective from a diverse range of subjects that include leadership, management, human resources and organisational issues in mental health settings.

Course Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a course. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes.

Graduate AttributeCourse Learning Outcome
Intellectual rigour

Critically evaluates and integrates models of treatment relevant to the care continuum, to inform co-constructed personalized care strategies which meet the consumer’s life needs as well as health needs.

Generates/translates novel information or theories, making a substantial contribution to the mental health nursing discipline through scholarly activities.


Engages creatively in therapeutic relationships with mental health consumers their families and significant others, which are characterized by co-construction of care and collaborative engagement.

Critically appraises the nature and extent of influences (social, political, economic and organizational) to overcome constraints in negotiation of options for clinical interventions.

Ethical practice

Advocates for mental health consumers, challenging discrimination and public discourse, minimising stigma through the use of positive portrayal and working toward social inclusion and independence.

Interrogates and challenges the concepts of risk and safety from the basis of consumer centred care considering social protection, legal, moral and ethical principles to balance risk in recovery.

Knowledge of a discipline

Exercises expert/enhanced clinical judgement and decision-making and insight in novel situations in specialist mental health nursing in the pursuit of optimal consumer outcomes.

Negotiates and executes the role of the mental health nursing discipline in a multidisciplinary and multi-professional approach.

Lifelong learning

Consistently demonstrates a high level of autonomy, accountability, adaptability and responsibility in self-directed work and learning.

Engages in and leads others in collaborative critical reflection on clinical practice and achievement of lifelong learning outcomes.

Communication and social skills

Develops and maintains partnerships in care (individually and with groups) with mental health consumers and their families which focuses on the recipient of care, the person’s right to choice and self-determination, and the person’s inherent capacity for recovery.

Consistently and judiciously uses information technology, compelling and authoritative written and verbal communications.

Cultural competence

Respects individual worldviews and enhances their own critical thinking to lead others in challenging assumptions underpinning worldviews.

Adjusts clinical practices to incorporate consumer’s cultural perspectives into mental health planning and interventions.

Assessments in this course include written essays, shorter critical reflections and developing holistic consumer-focused care plans based on evidence based practice. Weekly activities, readings and case studies are laid out with step-by-step instructions that are specifically designed to support you toward the successful completion of the assessment tasks.  

This course is offered one unit at a time, with each unit running for seven weeks. The course is completely online and hence offers flexibility for you to fit your study within other life commitments.  Each adult student brings with them valuable knowledge and experience. Consequently, the online platform and course design encourages you to read or view learning materials and then collaborate, discuss and debate ideas with fellow students and lecturers. Our multi-modal approach delivers content including video, audio and written materials are deigned to extend your mental health nursing practice capabilities.

This course offers the opportunity to expand and refresh your current careers, enter into a mental health nursing career or advance within the mental health nursing profession. 

Those graduates reaching the Graduate Diploma exit point of the Masters, and who hold registration as a Registered Nurse, can use this qualification as part of their application to the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses for credentialed Mental Health Nurse status, the only specialist award for the discipline. 

This course has received provisional accreditation from the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses pending the first graduate of the course.



The information on this page may be subject to change over time. Please check this web page again before acting and see our disclaimer

From the 1st of June, 2017, the term 'Distance Education' has been replaced with 'Online'