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Higher Diploma in Mental Health Nursing

Key Information

Major Code: X931 March

Duration: 12 months

Next Intake: March 2024


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.

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.

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.

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. 

On successful completion of all theory and clinical modules, you will be awarded a Level 8 Higher Diploma in Mental Health Nursing and can then proceed to register as a Psychiatric Nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). 

Health Service Executive

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 of your sponsoring area).

Bloomfield Health Services

Further information about Bloomfield students and their placements can be attained by contacting Bloomfield directly www.bloomfield.ie/contact/

St John of God Hospital

Further information about the hospital can be accessed at

(opens in a new window)https://www.stjohnofgodhospital.ie/

If you are successful in the interview process and accept an offer onto the programme you will be a paid employee of your chosen employer i.e. HSE, Bloomfield Health Services or St. John of God Community Services. The fees for this programme are sponsored by the employer subject to certain conditions. More information about this sponsorship is available on the job advertisement from each employer.

Please note that there is a non-refundable administration fee of €60.00 payable when registering to the programme.

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.

English Language Entry Requirements
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. 


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.

Applicants to the Higher Diploma in Mental Health Nursing have the opportunity to apply for the programme through three employers.

Applications are first made to your employer before completing a UCD application form.

Health Service Executive

Applications are invited via the (opens in a new window)HSE Website. All details are provided in the HSE application documentation.

Bloomfield Health Services

For additional information on applying to Bloomfield Health Services visit https://www.bloomfield.ie/careers/current-vacancies/

St. John of God Hospital

For additional information on applying to Saint John of God Hospital visit https://stjohnofgodhospital.ie/

SNMHS logo

Ask a Question

If you are considering applying to the programme please contact the UCD Programme Co-ordinators Tracey McDonagh or Dr. Shobha Rani Shetty.

Contact the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems

Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4
T: +353 1 716 6488 | Location Map(opens in a new window)