How do I get Started in Mental Health Nursing?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 March 2019
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To get started in mental health nursing, you will need to complete a course at an accredited college or technical school. There are both two- and four-year nursing programs, so you should decide ahead of time which of these you would like to pursue. You may be able to find a job working in mental health nursing with either.

In order for you to get your nursing degree, you will need to complete between one and two years of general education. This includes subjects like English, math, science, and foreign languages. These classes help to prepare you for the curriculum you will need to study later on when you enter the nursing portion of your studies. Once your general education requirements are taken care of, you can move on to nursing school to get your license.

Most times, you will not need to study a specialty in nursing school even if you intend to work in one field of medicine or another. This may not be true for all locations and schools, however, so you should let your teachers know about your intentions to become involved in mental health nursing. In the majority of cases, you will receive training in your specialty once you have already started working as a nurse.


You can find work in a variety of areas that need mental health nurses. These may include mental hospitals, clinics, private psychiatry practices, and public hospitals which have a psychiatric ward. To find jobs in these areas, call around and ask about any available positions. You may also consider checking on the company or hospital system’s website to view any available job openings.

More than likely, you will be required to attend an in-person interview before you will be offered a position in mental health nursing. Make sure that you type up a professional resume to bring with you, and include any jobs you have previously held in the field of health care. This may include working as a nurse's aid or as an intern during your schooling. If you have had no formal medical field experience, list any jobs that you have held along with a section highlighting the kills you have acquired which will help you in the position.

If you are asked to come to an interview, make sure you dress professionally. This includes wearing dark-colored business attire and covering any tattoos or piercings other than those in your ears. Do not wear flashy jewelry or brightly colored makeup or nail polish. You should also make sure that you answer all questions honestly, without giving the impression that you have more experience than you actually do.



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