Higher Diploma in Mental Health Nursing

The role of the mental health nurse is to foster the health and well-being of individuals experiencing changes in their mental health status.

Approaches to care include: promotion of mental health, prevention and treatment of acute mental illness and the maintenance of optimum health for persons experiencing enduring mental health problems. Mental health nurses engage in therapeutic activities with individuals and their families in a variety of community settings and in acute psychiatric hospitals.

Why is this course for me?

This post-registration Higher Diploma in Mental Health is an intense twelve-month programme leading to registration as a Psychiatric Nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

As a Level 8 course, the programme represents a challenging yet rewarding path to becoming a mental health nurse. Regular assessment will help students to keep abreast of the new knowledge, skills and competencies required for success.

This exciting Higher Diploma prepares you to meet the mental health needs of adults and their families in the 21st century. You will learn to engage with those suffering mental distress or illness, as well as their families, in a positive and collaborative way, empowering them to cope and recover.

What will I study?

You will experience a variety of teaching methods as you establish a strong foundation in mental health nursing practice. These include role-play, small group discussions, workshop simulations and lectures. You will undertake clinical and theory modules, including:

  • NMHS 32560 Recovery Based Frameworks
  • NMHS 32720 Acute Mental Health Nursing
  • NMHS 32600 Specific Populations in Mental Health
  • NMHS 32540 Evidence Based Practice for Mental Health Nursing
  • NMHS 32570 Therapeutic Interventions 
  • NMHS32550 Psychosocial interventions for people experiencing severe and enduring mental illness
  • NMHS 32950 Leadership for Quality and Safety in mental health nursing 
  •  NMHS 32940  HDMH Clinical Module Clinical Placements    will be provided over the course of 36 weeks duration.

Clinical Placement module will be provided over the course of 36 weeks duration. In order to meet the NMBI standards and regulations a variety of assessment modes will be used to regularly and continuously to assess students throughout the year. 


Clinical Placements
Clinical learning opportunities help you to apply theory to practice and to develop the required competencies for your Higher Diploma. Clinical placements are facilitated by our partner mental health services in Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare areas: 
  • Dublin South Central Mental Health Services
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Linn Dara, Dublin South Central / Kildare
  • Dublin South East / Wicklow Mental Health Services
  • Dublin North City Mental Health Services
  • Kildare / West Wicklow Mental Health Services
  • St. Joseph’s MHID Services, Dublin North
  • National Forensic Mental Health Service

(Please note, as part of NMBI requirements for registration, clinical placements over the duration of the programme will be located throughout the greater Dublin/Wicklow/Kildare region, regardless your sponsoring area).

For additional information, please click here

St John of God Hospital

Further information about the hospital can be accessed at


Career Opportunities

Qualifying as a mental health nurse is the beginning of an exciting and rewarding career, as it opens up opportunities for working in a variety of settings. Due to the evolving role of mental health nursing in modern healthcare systems, many nurses now choose to specialise in areas such as addiction, forensics and child mental health. You can also pursue further specialist qualifications through graduate diplomas, master’s degree and PhD degrees.

Programme Outcomes

We have seven overall programme outcomes which will be the focus thoughout the course. The aim is that the nursing graduates of the Higher Diploma in Mental Health will: 

  • Demonstrate the acquisition of theoretical principles, national and international frameworks, policies and therapeutic modalities underpinning mental health nursing.
  • Utilise their acquired knowledge to responsibly deliver high quality, skillful, safe, legal and accountable care to service users.
  • Be able to engage in meaningful, effective, therapeutic and person-centered communication with recipients of mental health care in a range of settings. 
  • Engage in respectful and ethical collaborative practice with service users and with colleagues of all disciplines while upholding the professional values of compassion, care and commitment.
  • Continuously develop learning, including self-awareness, as a necessary process in the context of their professional and personal self-development, self-care, resilience and the development of professional scholarship.
  • Apply evidence from the critical appraisal of research to deliver evidence based practice in mental health nursing care.
  • Apply leadership, management, teamwork and organisational skills for the promotion of mental healthcare delivery. 


Layout of Programme

The post-registration Higher Diploma in Mental Health Nursing led by UCD in partnership with the HSE, is a fifty-three week programme leading to registration as a Psychiatric Nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

In the 53 weeks, there are 12 theory weeks, 36 clinical practice weeks and 24 days annual leave.

All dates are set before the programme begins and annual leave can only be taken as per programme layout. 

Clinical placements are confirmed in conjunction with UCD and the Area Directors/Directors of Nursing before the programme begins and cannot be changed by the student.

Who should apply?

Candidates must: 

  • Be registered on the register of nurses maintained by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) or entitled to be so registered.
  • Have six months post-registration nursing experience within the past three years, working within a 39-hour week, or its aggregate if part time.
  • Applicants for the Higher Diploma in Mental Health Nursing programme commencing in April 2021 must demonstrate evidence of competence in the English language, sufficient to communicate effectively in a mental health care setting. The entry requirements for the Higher Diploma in Mental Health Nursing, UCD, requires applicants to demonstrate that they meet the English language criteria in one of the following ways:


Applicants, whose first language or primary language of expression is not English, must provide evidence that their English language ability meets the required standard for admission (IELTS). The minimum required score is 7.0 on the IELTS assessment test.  (Please click https://www.nmhs.ucd.ie/study-with-us/graduate-programmes/courses/higher-diploma-mental-health-nursing for further information on the UCD English Language Requirements)


·         Provide evidence of having obtained an academic qualification, such as a diploma, degree or MSc, from an Irish university or wholly through the English language from a majority-English speaking country


·         Occupational English Test (OET) results are also accepted. These should be a  minimum score of 350 on the OET.


The above HEI English Language requirement documentation if applicable must be uploaded to your PAC online application. Please note that  for all proficiency tests the results must normally have been issued within the last two years


How to Apply

Applications are invited via the HSE Website. All details are provided in the HSE application documentation.

Advance notice for this campaign has been posted to the HSE Website -  https://www.hse.ie/eng/staff/jobs/job-search/nursing/postreghdipmentalhealth/



Sponsorship and Registration

Note that this programme is available through a sponsoring mental health service and is not open to individual application. You will receive UCD registration information when you accept a place on the programme. You must be fully registered with UCD before you can commence the programme. Please note that there is a non-refundable administration fee of €50.00 payable to UCD.  Once you have accepted a place on the programme, university fees are paid on your behalf by the HSE. As a student mental health nurse you are a paid employee of the HSE. HSE sponsorship details will be available on the HSE website with Higher Diploma in Mental Health Nursing application documents.