HDip Mental Health Nursing

Graduate Taught (level 8 nfq, credits 80)

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.

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

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. 

View All Modules Here

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.

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


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.

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.  (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.

Documents required: 

  • Copy of current Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland P.I.N.
  • Copy of Birth Certificate or Personal Page of Passport.


The following entry routes are available:

HDip Mental Health Nursing (May) FT (X931)
1 Years
Full Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised

Please note

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

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

For additional information on applying to Saint John of God Hospital visit www.sjoghosp.ie/careers