Midyear entry, applications closing soon Apply now

Start Date

1 year(s) full-time

Program Code

Study as
Full-time or part-time

Degree overview

  • Registered Nurses can advance their knowledge and skills in contemporary mental health patient care.
  • Study at a university ranked in the World Top 100 for nursing.1
  • Learn from industry-experienced clinicians at a university with well above world-class research in nursing.2
  • Study at the No.1 university in South Australia for student satisfaction in nursing.3
  • Benefit from flexible learning options on-campus and online.
  • Gain practical experience with 240 hours of industry placement during your studies.
  • Be supported by online learning resources, available to you 24/7.
  • UniSA is an unstoppable university for unstoppable people. As one of the World’s Top Young Universities,4 we’ll ensure you get the experience your future profession demands so it’ll feel like you’re studying one minute and in a career the next.

12023 QS Subject Rankings. 22018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). 3ComparED (QILT) Course Experience Questionnaire 2021-22 – Overall Satisfaction Indicator (Domestic Postgraduate). SA Public universities. 4Ranked #43, 2024 THE Young University Rankings.


Monika Ferguson

In two years of part-time study, Registered Nurses will be equipped with the skills to effectively respond to patients suffering from mental health challenges.  

UniSA will help you develop the knowledge and practical skills needed to assess and care for people experiencing mental illness.

This graduate diploma explores psychosocial and behavioural sciences and the legal and ethical aspects of mental health nursing practice. As a mental health nurse, you’ll be able to work with people who have a mental illness like depression, postnatal depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis.

You’ll 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 with a blend of online learning and on-campus workshops.

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 for the specific courses you'll study.

What you'll learn

What you Learn

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'll explore the bio-psychosocial and behavioural sciences, co-morbidities, pharmacology and the provision of family support within mental health. Emphasis is placed on the practice of mental health care for a culturally diverse society in metropolitan, rural and remote clinical settings.

You'll also develop advanced interviewing and assessment skills, and knowledge of support services.

Degree structure

Course name Area and cat no. Units Reference  
Choose 1 of the following 4 courses:
Perspectives in Mental Health Practice NURS 5071 9 Note(s): 1,2
Best Practice in Adolescent Mental Health NURS 5164 9 Note(s): 1,2
Best Practice in Older People's Mental Health NURS 5165 9 Note(s): 1,2
Perinatal Mental Health for Health Professionals NURS 5157 9 Note(s): 1,2
Enrol in all of the following 3 courses:
Theoretical Approaches to Mental Health Practice NURS 5159 9 Note(s): 2
Skills for Recovery Practice in Mental Health NURS 5160 9 Note(s): 2
Consolidation of Mental Health Nursing Practice NURS 5158 9 Note(s): 2,3 Rule(s): 1,2,3,4,5,6

Study hours

For each course you study, you will need to allocate time for planned learning activities. Depending on your study mode, these activities may include online discussion forums, virtual classroom sessions, lectures, tutorials, workshops, and seminars. You will also need to study in your own time to complete assignments, readings, and projects.

As a rule, most postgraduate study is completed part-time. If you are studying full-time, your studies should be treated like a full-time job, with approximately 35-40 hours of study per week. The full sum of these hours should balance your planned learning activities and your own independent study



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

The Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing offers immediate application in the workplace, advanced career prospects for Registered Nurses, and the opportunity to become a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse with the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN).

You’ll learn from specialist postgraduate teaching staff, and be supported by internationally renowned researchers. Our curriculum is informed by well above world-class research in nursing1, focused on outcomes relevant to improving mental health.

UniSA is home to the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research and Education, where our mental health researchers are recognised for undertaking research improving the lives of people in mental distress and at risk of suicide. Staff within the group contribute directly to the teaching of our postgraduate programs.

Real-world connections

Industry experience is a key focus of this graduate diploma. During your studies, you'll complete 240 hours of industry placement in a healthcare setting. Through clinical placements you’ll get direct access to qualified practitioners and mental health professionals, and build important industry networks. 

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. 

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:

  • access videos and course resources online
  • participate in an interactive online learning environment
  • submit your assignments and get feedback online
  • use online forums for teamwork and communication

Some on-campus workshop attendance is required at UniSA’s City East campus. These requirements are detailed on individual course pages.

Advance your Nursing Career with Postgraduate Study

Hear from Dr. Allison Roderick, UniSA's Program Director of Postgraduate Nursing and Midwifery Programs, on how postgraduate study can take your career as an Registered Nurse even further.

UniSA Video

Career outcomes

Your career

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

With an increasing prevalence of mental illness in Australia, this diploma is highly relevant to healthcare today. In 2017-18, more than 20% of Australians (4.8 million people) had a mental or behavioural condition.1 Specialist training in the area of mental health will further improve employment prospects for graduates, and offer career diversity.

Registered Nurses with extra mental health qualifications can broaden their employment prospects 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 registered nursing professionals in Australia is projected to increase by 13.9% by November 2026.

Australian Government National Skills Commission Employment Projections 2021


To November 2026, healthcare and social assistance is projected to make the largest contribution to employment growth in Australia – an increase of 301,000 jobs.

Australian Government National Skills Commission Employment Projections 2021


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

Australian Government National Skills Commission Employment Projections 2021

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. Options include dedicated student accommodation and private rentals. See our long-term accommodation pages, or explore our student accommodation by Scape on Bank Street in Adelaide’s lively cultural precinct, an ideal 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 modern facilities including 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 and researcher working extensively within the international and post-graduate portfolio. I have an interest in improving the learning experience for post-graduate nurses who are our current and future leaders.

Dr Allison Roderick

Program Director

Portrait image for Dr Allison Roderick
Portrait image for Dr Allison Roderick

Dr Allison Roderick

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
Care Coordinator | Eastern Community Mental Health

Beata Mitchell, Graduate

Beata Mitchell

Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing
Care Coordinator | 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 Boylan

Director of Operations | Southern Cross Care

Jo Boylans.jpg

Jo Boylan

Director of Operations | 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

Executive Director | Women’s and Children’s Health Network

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

Jennifer Fereday

Executive Director | Women’s and Children’s Health Network