Start Date

1 year(s) full-time

Program Code

4GD048 (External)

Study as
Full-time or part-time

Degree overview

  • Study at a university that is ranked in the World Top 100 for Nursing.1
  • Benefit from flexible learning options.
  • Gain advanced knowledge and practical skills in mental health nursing.
  • Gain valuable practical experience when you complete an industry placement.
  • Learn from well above world-class researchers in Nursing,2 as well as from academics and industry experienced clinicians.
  • Study at the No.1 University in Australia for student satisfaction in Nursing.3
  • Be supported by online learning resources, available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Study with the No.1 University in South Australia for teaching quality in Nursing.4

12020 QS Subject Rankings.
22018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA).
3ComparED (QILT) Course Experience Questionnaire 2019-20 — Overall Satisfaction Indicator (Postgraduate). Public universities only.
4ComparED (QILT) Course Experience Questionnaire 2019-20 (Undergraduate and Postgraduate). Public universities only.


Monika Ferguson

As a Registered Nurse, you will specialise in the progressive field of mental health nursing to develop the knowledge and practical skills needed to asses and deliver care to people experiencing mental health problems and mental illness.

The Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing explores psychosocial and behavioural sciences and the legal and ethical aspects of mental health nursing practice. You will gain valuable practical experience with an industry placement, preparing you to provide mental health care in a variety of health care settings.

This qualification is offered online, with attendance required at some on-campus workshops.

Due to a limited number of placements, applicants are requested to include a Statement of Employment, National Police Clearance and DHS Working with Children Check with their application through SATAC.

What you'll need

Students who undertake activities where interaction with patients/the public is required for their degree, such as field or clinical placements/visits and in University clinics and gyms, must demonstrate they meet mandatory pre-placement conditional requirements. These include criminal history clearance, a Working with Children Check and immunisation requirements. Due to the limited number of placements, applicants are requested to supply these documents along with a Statement of Employment to SATAC when applying. Please visit the Clinical Placement Unit for information on key requirements, and to access the full student checklists.

On entry to the qualification you will be required to confirm that you meet the ‘Fitness to Practice in Clinical Placements’ requirements. 

You can find more about what you’ll need in the rules and notes below the courses you'll study.

What you'll learn

What you Learn

The Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing prepares registered nurses to care for people experiencing mental illness, exploring the bio-psychosocial and behavioural sciences, co-morbidities, pharmacology and the provision of family support within mental health. Emphasis is also placed on the practice of mental health care for a culturally diverse society in metropolitan, rural and remote clinical settings.

This unique qualification will give you an in-depth understanding of mental health issues and conditions, as well the ability to design intervention and evaluation strategies for patients across diverse backgrounds. You will also develop advanced interviewing, assessment skills and knowledge of support services.

Degree structure

Course name Area and cat no. Units Reference  
Perspectives in Mental Health Nursing NURS 5071 9 Note(s): 2 Rule(s): 3
Theoretical Approaches to Mental Health Nursing Practice NURS 5159 9 Rule(s): 3
Skills for Recovery Practice in Mental Health Nursing NURS 5160 9
Consolidation of Mental Health Nursing Practice NURS 5158 9 Rule(s): 1

Study hours

For each course you study, you will need to allocate time for learning activities. Depending on your study mode this may include online discussion forums, virtual classroom sessions, lectures, tutorials, workshops and seminars. Plus you will need additional hours to study in your own time to complete assignments, readings and projects. As a general rule most postgraduate study is completed part-time and if you are studying full-time you would need to allocate 12 – 26 hours of study when at university and 14 – 28 hours of independent study per week.



Your studies will incorporate practical, professionally-focused and research-based learning, so assessment types will vary. You can expect them to include: 

  • presentations
  • clinical assessments
  • group project case presentations
  • case studies
  • online activities.

Global opportunities

One of the key benefits of studying at UniSA is our ability to attract and retain internationally renowned researchers. You’ll learn from researchers and academics who are directly connected to industry and all of our clinical teaching staff combine teaching with industry experience. 

In addition, our diverse student population means you have the opportunity to gain global and cultural understanding, ideas and insights direct from your peers. 

Global opportunities

Why Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing

Why this Degree

Designed to suit working professionals, this graduate diploma is a great option for those wanting the flexibility that comes with online learning and workshops on campus. We offer accessible digital learning facilities and dedicated support staff who are with you every step of the way. You will learn from specialist postgraduate teaching staff, and be supported by internationally-renowned researchers, with our above world-class research in Nursing1 focused on outcomes relevant to improving mental health.

We’re home to the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Group (MHSPG), where our mental health researchers are recognised for undertaking research to improve mental health service delivery, inform policy and improve health outcomes. Furthermore, staff within the MHSPG contribute directly to the teaching of our postgraduate programs.

We’re also home to the Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre, a partnership between the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s South Australian branch (ANMFSA) and UniSA, with the Centre’s aim to strengthen the role of the nursing and midwifery professions across the health system.

As Australia’s University of Enterprise:

  • we are ranked No.1 in Australia for quality education2
  • we are ranked in the World’s Top 50 under 503
  • we are ranked in the World Top 100 for Nursing4
  • we are ranked No.1 in Australia for student satisfaction in Nursing5

It’s a very good time to choose UniSA for your postgraduate study.

12018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)
22019 THE University Impact Rankings
3Ranked #26, 2019 THE Young University Rankings; Ranked #30, 2020 QS Top 50 Universities Aged Under 50
42020 QS Subject Rankings
5ComparED (QILT): Course Experience Questionnaire 2018-19 — Overall Satisfaction Indicator (Postgraduate). Public universities only.

Real-world connections

Industry experience is a key focus of this graduate diploma. During your studies you will learn from qualified practitioners and mental health professionals, and build important industry networks, including through clinical placements.

We have clinical arrangements with local health and rural health networks, major hospitals, healthcare providers, aged care services and mental health services, in the private and public sectors. 

We also host regular University-wide employee master classes and employment expos, and alumni events in Australia and overseas.

Online study

Online study

This qualification is offered online. With interactive online course materials and a 24/7 learning environment you can organise your study to suit your lifestyle. You can:

  • study online, including accessing videos and course resources
  • participate in an interactive online learning environment
  • submit your assignments and get feedback online
  • use online forums for team work and communication

Online study is available but some on-campus workshop attendance is required at the City East campus. These requirements are detailed on individual course pages. 

Career outcomes

Your career

Mental health professionals aim to facilitate an improved quality of life for people with mental health problems and mental illness. They actively participate in the recognition, assessment and treatment of people with mental health and co-morbid related conditions, and provide support and assistance to families and friends.

There is an increasing prevalence of mental illness in Australia - in 2017-18 more than 20 per cent of Australians (4.8 million people) had a mental or behavioural condition.1 Specialist training in the area of mental health will offer career diversity for graduates.

Mental health nurses can gain employment in a variety of settings in the private and public sectors, including:

  • hospital emergency departments
  • acute inpatient units
  • residential and non-residential rehabilitation programs
  • the justice system
  • community health services.

1Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18.

Industry facts


Employment for health professionals in Australia is projected to increase by 12.4 per cent (77,600 jobs) by May 2024.1

1Australian Government Department of Employment, Occupational Employment Projections 2019


To May 2024, healthcare and social assistance is projected to make the largest contribution to employment growth in Australia – an increase of 252,600 jobs.1

1Australian Government Department of Employment, Occupational Employment Projections 2019


Healthcare and social assistance has been the primary provider of new jobs in the Australian labour market since the 1990s.1

1Australian Government Department of Employment, Occupational Employment Projections 2019

How to apply

Applying to study with us:

  • check you meet the full entry requirements for this program
  • go to the top of this page and make note of the SATAC code, then click Apply
  • you will be redirected through to the SATAC website to continue your application


Every year, over 2,500 UniSA students are supported in their studies through scholarships and grants worth millions of dollars. Check out the scholarships below. One of them may be perfect for you. Visit our scholarships page for more.

More scholarships

Your study experience and support

Our campuses have fantastic facilities including modern lecture theatres, libraries, workshops, laboratories, tech zones, and spaces that simulate real work environments. You’ll also find student gyms and campus sport activities to keep you active. We also offer flexible study options, with online resources available for accessing lecture recordings, virtual classrooms, library resources and learning support. 

Adelaide also has a variety of accommodation options to suit different requirements and budgets should you need, from dedicated student accommodation to private rentals. See our long-term accommodation pages or explore our student accommodation by urbanest on Bank Street in Adelaide’s lively cultural precinct, an ideal perfect location for students. It is within easy reach of UniSA’s city and metropolitan campuses, Rundle Mall shopping, the Central Market, Chinatown, and the West End’s vibrant nightlife. It is also across the road from the Adelaide train station, and on bus and tram routes.

Student services

Student services

Our student services provide you with all the support you need at university. You can access a full range of support services including academic and personal counselling, career advice, social support services, as well as those through our student association, USASA. When you become a UniSA student, you can also contact Campus Central for help with anything related to your degree. They will help you with your enrolment, ID cards, fees, timetables and more.

24/7 digital environment

Our learnonline facilities include a personal learning environment with virtual classrooms, lecture recordings, emails, learning support, administration, library access and results. The environment is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can tailor your learning to your life. We are continually investing in innovative digital technologies for a high-quality student learning experience.

Student services

Your campus

We have six campuses in metropolitan and regional areas, each with advanced facilities including modern lecture theatres, libraries and laboratories, as well as spaces that simulate real work environments.

Location This degree is delivered at the following campus.

Your program director

I have worked as a clinician, clinical educator and academic, working extensively within the international and post-graduate portfolio, particularly the re-entry to practice program. I have an interest in improving the learning experience for international students and policy underpinning re-entry to clinical practice.

AsPr Paul Bennett

Program Director

Portrait image for AsPr Paul Bennett
Portrait image for AsPr Paul Bennett

AsPr Paul Bennett

Program Director


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What others are saying

The Graduate Diploma has given me the skills to be a proficient mental health practitioner in a range of settings. I found the group work to be particularly beneficial, as it’s important to have the ability to communicate within a multi-disciplinary team.

Beata Mitchell

Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing
Employment: Eastern Community Mental Health
Role: Care Coordinator

Beata Mitchell, Graduate

Beata Mitchell

Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing
<br />Employment: Eastern Community Mental Health

My involvement in the rural health club at university provided me with a different view into the health care system and offered great networking opportunities around Australia.

Martins Strikis, Registered Nurse, Mount Gambier Community Mental Health Service

Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing

Martins Strikis.jpg

Martins Strikis, Registered Nurse, Mount Gambier Community Mental Health Service

Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing

Staff who have upskilled with postgraduate study really shine through as motivated workers. We often employ people with postgraduate qualifications in our managerial positions as they have equipped themselves with those extra specialised skills.

Jo Boylans

Employment: Southern Cross Care
Role: Director of Operations

Jo Boylans.jpg

Jo Boylans

<br />Employment: Southern Cross Care

The University of South Australia understands that quality teaching in nursing and midwifery goes hand-in-hand with industry partnerships. They work collaboratively across all health care services to design industry-informed curriculum.

Jennifer Fereday

Employment: Women’s and Children’s Health Network
Role: Executive Director

Jennifer Fereday, Executive Director, Women's and Childrens Health Network.jpg

Jennifer Fereday

<br />Employment: Women’s and Children’s Health Network

We offer high quality resources to assist student learning, including a simulated hospital and health service integrating the latest technologies, and our teaching is delivered by an outstanding group of nursing, midwifery, and allied health academics and clinicians.

Associate Professor Rachael Vernon

Rachael Vernon

Associate Professor Rachael Vernon