Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing

Duration1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Next start termAnytime
Study modeOnline
Course codeCC69


The Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing is delivered via our Be Different platform and offers you a self-paced, ultra-flexible online course, ideal for busy, emerging health leaders interested in practising as a qualified Mental Health Nurse.

Our Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing is nationally accredited by the Australian College of Mental Health Nursing, meaning you’ll graduate from this course with specialist mental health nursing skills and knowledge. After completion of this course, you can later apply to become a credentialed Mental Health Nurse through the Australian College of Mental Health Nursing provided you meet the other requirements.

Delivered as part of a suite, the Graduate Diploma incorporates a nested Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing. This means that the first four units you complete make up the Graduate Certificate and will build your skills and knowledge in undertaking mental health assessments, diagnostic formulations and risk assessments, along with psychotropic medication, and recovery. The final units of this course extend on this and with a focus on the provision of safe, person-centred, recovery-orientated mental health care, particular attention is given to exploring a range of therapeutic interventions that you can use to enhance your practice. After completing the Graduate Diploma, you may like to extend your studies and continue on in the Master of Mental Health Nursing.

The assessments that you complete for the Graduate Diploma need you to be working in mental health. This way you can employ your mental health nursing skills and apply your learnings to your own clinical practice.

Developed with industry and lived experience academics, we’ve made sure our mental health nursing courses are evidence-based and clinically relevant so that your studies truly reflect current and emerging mental health nursing matters. Add to this, the flexible, online delivery via our Be Different platform where you set your own pace and affordable tuition fees and you have a suite of mental health nursing courses that allow you to fit study around your life, not the other way around.

Career Opportunities

On the completion of this course you will receive the award of Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing.

Students who complete this course of study will be able to seek employment in the mental health field as a career pathway.

Structure & Availability

Wondering how a self-paced postgraduate course in mental health nursing works and what to expect? Explore the course details below to find out more.

The Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing is comprised of eight units. Seven core units and one elective unit from a choice of two. The units that you will study are generally broken down into five or six smaller modules that you can complete.

If you have completed the Graduate Certificate, you’ll have already studied the first four units of the Graduate Diploma, so you’ll only have four to go.

Each unit is six credit points and designed to require a time commitment of a total of 144 hours; in total, for all eight units (this is approximately 1120 hours of study). The eight units from within the Graduate Diploma equate to 12 months of full-time study when compared to a typical university term structure of two terms of full-time study. However, you will have up to three years from enrolment to complete the course at your own pace.

If you haven’t already completed the graduate certificate, you will have access to the first four units (that make up the graduate certificate). After completing these, you’ll have access to the final units, and you can work through these in any order.

Your assessments range from portfolio, online quizzes, case studies, videoed presentations with all being based around your mental health nursing practice – the difference is there are no deadlines or due dates. Additional activities are available for those who wish to explore topics further, however, are not mandatory.

You must complete a total of eight units (seven core and one elective) as follows:
The four core units that make up the Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing
NURS20150 Contextual Foundations of Mental Health Nursing Practice
NURS20151 Creating Meaningful Relationships
NURS20157 Mental Health Nursing Assessment and Formulation
NURS20158 Clinical Foundations for Practice

Three additional core units:
NURS20149 Mental Health Promotion in Mental Health Nursing
NURS20152 Advanced Therapeutic Interventions
NURS20153 Recovery Into Action

One elective unit from the following two options:
NURS20178 Alcohol and Other Drugs  OR
NURS20154 The Transformative Power of Story

Seven core units:
Contextual Foundations of Mental Health Nursing Practice (core unit)

Mental health nursing has evolved over many centuries and has continued to be influenced by socio-political factors. This unit challenges you to explore the historical, traditional and contemporary discourses shaping mental health nursing practice. You will examine the experiences of marginalised groups within these services. Social, biological and cultural influences of mental health will also be explored. You will have the opportunity to apply theoretical understandings to reflect on and better understand the mental health nursing role across various contexts.

Creating Meaningful Relationships (core unit)
To support people affected by mental health issues and distress requires understanding, empathy and skilful use of therapeutic strategies. In this unit, you will learn about the concept of the therapeutic use of self and various mental health issues that affect a person's ability to think, feel and relate with others. You will apply therapeutic evidence-based strategies that support the person in their journey of recovery. This unit will also provide an opportunity to develop further skills in self-reflection on how you relate in a professional capacity with consumers.

Clinical Foundations for Practice (core unit)
This unit will enable you to continue to examine mental health practice within a strengths-based framework and give you the opportunity to examine the nursing actions, including safety and therapeutic implications and psycho-education, associated with psychopharmacology and other types of biological treatments for mental health consumers. Ethical issues associated with the use of medication and other biological treatments within a Recovery-orientated practice will be discussed and analysed.

Mental Health Nursing Assessment and Formulation (core unit)
This unit provides specialised knowledge and skills for safe and effective mental health nursing care within a strengths-based framework. You will examine psychiatric classification systems and undertake comprehensive mental state examinations and risk formulation. You will demonstrate good judgement and adaptability in the physical and psycho-social care of persons experiencing different forms of distress.

Recovery Into Action (core unit)
The Recovery movement heralded a paradigm shift in mental health services and is now enshrined in national policy and legislation. Whilst services are adapting to this shift, Recovery has yet to be unanimously adopted. In this unit, you will examine how Recovery is conceived and practised adjacent to biopsychosocial treatment. You will have the opportunity to analyse social, cultural and organisational influences that enable the inclusion of Recovery in contemporary treatment. You will also be asked to evaluate an organisational area and determine strategies for integration and change.

Mental Health Promotion in Mental Health Nursing (core unit)
Contemporary national mental health plans emphasise the importance of proactive mental health promotion strategies and interventions that reduce stigma and discrimination for people living with a mental disorder. This unit will allow you to explore mental health promotion within contemporary society. You will be expected to research global and local mental health promotion initiatives and evaluate structures that enhance an organisation's capacity to provide mental health promotion and build resilience.

Advanced Therapeutic Interventions (core unit)
Approaches to mental health care have developed dramatically in the past 150 years. From containment and custodial-based care, mental health nurses now aspire to therapeutic approaches that are person-centred, goal-oriented, collaborative and evidence-based. This unit explores specialist techniques intentionally used to create ease, promote self-understanding and motivate pathways to recovery within specific mental health contexts. You will research, discuss and apply traditional and emerging psychosocial approaches such as cognitive behaviour therapy, solution-focused counselling, open dialogue and other group therapies. You will also have an opportunity to focus your inquiry into one or more specialist services, where advanced techniques are emphasised.

One of the following two elective options:
Alcohol and Other Drugs (elective unit)
The use and misuse of licit and illicit drugs is a serious and complex problem in Australia and leads to broad health, social and economic concerns including increased risk of mortality, illness, disease and injury; social and family disruption; workplace problems; and violence, crime and community safety issues. In this unit, you will have the opportunity to explore the impact of drug use, the reasons why individuals may use and misuse drugs, and evaluate strategies to minimise harm to the community and individuals. You will also compare the effects of different types of licit and illicit drugs on individuals and evaluate assessment and treatment options.

The Transformative Power of Story (elective unit)
This unit will provide you with opportunities to explore the transformative and healing power of stories. You will explore the ways stories have been or could be used to understand lived experience, prompt therapeutic change, or convey powerful lessons about the human experience. Types of narratives explored include consumers’ stories as an embodiment of the lived experience and stories found in film, fiction, metaphor and art. The idea that people can be assisted to re-story their lives will be examined using narrative.

Online Availability

Hyperflexible Annual Term, 2023Available Online

When you study this course via our flexible online Be Different learning platform, not only will you study high-quality course content delivered by our supportive Mental Health Nursing educators, but you also get to set the pace. You are not bound by our traditional term dates, such as Term 1 (March) or Term 2 (July) and you can submit your assessments at any time over the duration of the course.

The course is open for applications all year round so you can start your studies anytime.

Once enrolled, you will have up to three years to complete this course.

Majors and minors are not applicable to this course.

This course has no residential schools.

Professional Practice - Australian College of Mental Health Nurses


The ACMHN offers accreditation to education providers who provide postgraduate mental health nursing programs that align with the National Framework for Postgraduate Mental Health Nursing Education. This accreditation is consistent with the Australian Standards for Professional Processes (2008) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) Quality Framework for the Accreditation function.


To be eligible for entry into this course, applicants must supply:


· Current registration as a Registered Nurse (Division 1) with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority (AHPRA); and

· A letter of employment demonstrating current employment in a setting which requires the use of mental health nursing skills.

Letters of employment must be presented on a company letterhead and be signed and dated by a delegated authority. Please ensure that the letter contains your full name, position title, duties performed, hours per week, and length of service.




You will have to meet this course's inherent requirements by demonstrating essential skills and attributes.

Fees & Scholarships

2023 Indicative Fees

Fee TypeFees
International Indicative First Term FeeA$8,400
International Indicative First Year FeeA$16,800

Please note the following important information:

  • Fees are in Australian dollars (A$).
  • Fees are indicative only and do not cover additional costs such as textbooks, accommodation, visa applications, OSHC, general living etc.
  • Fees are based on a full-time study load and the final fee payable will be determined by your selection of units and if any credit was awarded for recognition of prior learning.
  • The University reserves the right to amend fees at any time during the course. Fees are reviewed yearly and may increase in the following year to enable CQUniversity to continue to provide quality services and facilities to students.
  • Courses are subject to change at the discretion of the University.
  • It is your responsibility to make yourself aware of the entry requirements and prerequisites of the courses you wish to undertake.
  • The typical annual fee shown provides an estimate of the tuition fees for the first year of the course in the same academic year. This estimate assumes a full-time study load of 4 units per term (based on two terms).
  • Students not on an Australian student visa can only undertake courses online from an overseas location.
  • Courses undertaken online may be studied on a full-time or part-time mode.
  • International students studying on-campus in Australia may take no more than 33 per cent of their entire course by online education, and this option cannot be taken in its entirety during a compulsory term (Term 1 and Term 2).

Please refer to our international course fees page.

Scholarships are not available for this course.

How to apply

Our easy to use online application system for international students will guide you through the process of applying for a course at CQUniversity Australia.

This course is open for applications all year round and you can start your studies anytime.  To apply, click on the apply button below.