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Mental Health Nurses

The Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) provides mental health nurses who are Credentialed under the ACMHN’s Credential for Practice Program with an opportunity to embark on a new career path into primary practice.

Under MHNIP, general practitioners, divisions of general practice, psychiatrists and Aboriginal health services can engage mental health nurses to provide coordinated clinical care for people with severe mental disorders.

In 2010, the Australian Government announced an additional $13.0 million would be allocated to the MNHIP nationally, to engage 136 extra mental health nurses under the program. This brings the total funding for the MHNIP to $79.777million over six years (2006/07 – 2011/12). At the end of April 2010, a total of 42,696 patients had been treated since the program’s inception.

This program provides non-MBS incentive payments to eligible community based general practices, private psychiatry services and other appropriate organizations (such as Divisions of General Practice or Aboriginal Medical Services) who engage mental health nurses to coordinate treatment and care for people with serious mental illness and complex needs.
There are a range of ways mental health nurses choose to work under the program (ranging from employee status, to working in private practice under self-funded arrangements) and a number of practice and funding models exist. Please contact the ACMHN for further information.

Mental Health Nurse Credential

The Mental Health Nurse Credential recognises the skills, expertise and experience of nurses who are practicing as specialist Mental Health Nurses. It demonstrates to employers, professional colleagues, patients and carers that an individual nurse has achieved the professional standard for practice in mental health nursing. The Credential also increases awareness of the contribution Mental Health Nurses make to the mental health of the community.

Credentialing is a core component of clinical/professional governance or self regulation where members of a profession set standards for practice and establish a minimum requirement for entry, continuing professional development, endorsement and recognition.

Registered nurses working in specialised fields and other disciplines have developed credentialing as a means to ensure standards of practice and competence within their specialist domain beyond entry to practice.

The Credential for Practice Program is an initiative of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses and has established the only national consistent recognition for specialist Mental Health Nurses.

Mental Health Nurse Credential Criteria

If you are a registered nurse practising within the mental health field in Australia, you may apply to be credentialed as a Mental Health Nurse. If your application is approved, you will be awarded a Credential that is valid for 3 years. The award means you are formally recognised by the ACMHN as a specialist mental health nurse and are entitled to use the title Mental Health Nurse (MHN).
To gain a credential, applicants must demonstrate that they:

  • Hold a current licence to practice as a registered nurse within Australia
  • Hold a recognised specialist / post graduate mental health nursing qualification
  • Have had at least 12 months experience since completing specialist / postgraduate qualification OR have three years experience as a registered nurse working in mental health
  • Have been practicing within the last three years
  • Have acquired minimum continuing professional development points for education and practice
  • Are supported by two professional referees
  • Have completed a professional declaration agreeing to uphold the standards of the profession.

Important Changes to the Credential for Practice Program

Effective: Friday 1 April 2011

Suspension of the provision for equivalence of Qualifications

The ACMHN is undertaking a review of its Credentialing for Practice Program.

During this process, it is SUSPENDING its provision under the qualifications criterion that has previously allowed an assessment of other qualifications to determine equivalence with a post graduate diploma in mental health nursing. That is, only applications from nurses who hold a MENTAL HEALTH NURSING qualification as specified in the guidelines can be submitted.

This change will come into effect on Friday, 1 April 2011.

This will be the last day for RECEIPT of applications under the provision for equivalence of qualifications at the ACMHN. Any applications submitted prior to 1 April 2011 under the provision for equivalence, must be complete as per the Guidelines. All applications that have already been submitted will continue to be processed.

Further notice as to the status of the change will be advised on the ACMHN website on 30 June 2011.

A new application form and guidelines reflecting this notified change will be loaded onto the website by 21 March 2011.

The ACMHN reserves the right to change its criteria in relation to the ACMHN Credential for Practice Program.