Standards of Practice

Standards of Practice in Mental Health Nursing

Standards of Practice provide practical benchmarks to guide and measure how care is provided. They are concerned with the performance of mental health nurses across a range of clinical environments and include professional knowledge, skills and attitudes (attributes).

The ACMHN Standards of Practice for Australian Mental Health Nurses 2010 specify the minimum level of performance required for a registered nurse practising in any mental health setting.

The 9 Standards are as follows:

(please see information at bottom of page to access the full document ‘Standards of Practice in Mental Health Nursing (2010) which includes the rationale, practice outcomes and attributes (knowledge, skills and attitudes) associated with the Standards)


Standard 1

The mental health nurse acknowledges diversity in culture, values and belief systems and ensures his/her practice is non-discriminatory, and promotes dignity and self-determination.

Standard 2

The mental health nurse establishes collaborative partnerships that facilitate and support people with mental health issues to participate in all aspects of their care.

Standard 3

The mental health nurse develops a therapeutic relationship that is respectful of the individual’s choices, experiences and circumstances. This involves building on strengths, holding hope and enhancing resilience to promote recovery.

Standard 4

The mental health nurse collaboratively plans and provides ethically based care consistent with the mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, social and cultural needs of the individual.

Standard 5

The mental health nurse values the contributions of other agencies and stakeholders in the collaborative provision of holistic, evidence based care and in ensuring comprehensive service provision for people with mental health issues.

Standard 6

The mental health nurse actively pursues opportunities to reduce stigma and promotes social inclusion and community participation for all people with mental health issues.

Standard 7

The mental health nurse demonstrates evidence-based practice and actively promotes practice innovation through lifelong education, research, professional development, clinical supervision and reflective practice.

Standard 8

The mental health nurse’s practice incorporates and reflects common law requirements, relevant statutes and the nursing profession’s code of conduct and ethics. The mental health nurse integrates international, national, local and state policies and guidelines with professional Standards and competencies.

Standard 9

The mental health nurse holds specialist qualifications and demonstrates advanced specialist knowledge, skills and practice, integrating all the Standards competently and modelling leadership in the practice setting.



NOTE: ACMHN members are able to download the full document 'Standards of Practice in Mental Health Nursing (2010)’  from the 'Members Area' as a members benefit.

Go to 'Members Area' and then 'Member Login' in the top horizontal navigation. Login and you will see a link to "Download Standards of Practice" in the left hand navigation menu of the same page.

If you are not a member and would like to purchase a copy, please contact ACMHN National Office on (02) 6285 1078. If you are not a member, you may wish to join to access this and many other benefits. For information about joining – including prices, other benefits and payment options – please go to the ACMHN Home menu, click on "About Us" and then click on the "Join Now" link.


Mental Health Practice Standards

For Nurses in Australian General Practice

Practice standards define and describe the practice of nurses, and in this instance, aim to guide practice and support the delivery of stepped mental health care by nurses working in general practice and other primary health care settings. 

These Practice Standards have built on the Australian and Nursing Midwifery (ANMF) National Practice Standards for Nurses working in Australian general practice. They provide an important framework against which nurses can self-assess their professional development needs and adjust their clinical practice to ensure that every person seen in the primary care setting has their mental health needs considered and addressed as appropriate.

The Mental Health Practice Standards is free to download:

Download the electronic version here or contact ACMHN National Office on (02) 6285 1078 to find out how you can get a hardcopy document. 

 Journal Articles

Publications by Members

Have you had a paper published in a refereed journal? Would you like to submit your work here for other members to use and read? All you need to do is to obtain permission from the publisher and send the permssion and a PDF copy of the paper to the Webmaster (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.his e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) along with a brief blurb about why you think the paper is relevant or important for mental health nurses.

The following publications have been submitted by ACMHN members and are provided here with permission from the publisher.

A/Prof Lorna Moxham

Moxham, L., Robson, P. and pegg, S.  (2010). Mental health care in the Australian context. In, LeMone and Burke’s Medical –Surgical Nursing (First Australian edition). Sydney, Australia: Pearson, In press.

Moxham, L., Dwyer, T., Happell, B., Reid-Searl, K., Kahl, J. Morris, J. and Wheatland. N. (2010). Recognising our role: improved confidence of general nurses providing care to young people with a mental illness in a rural paediatric unit. Journal of Clinical Nursing, Vol 19, 1434 – 1442.

Broadbent, M., Creaton, A., Moxham, L. and Dwyer, T. (2010). Review of Triage Reform: The Case for National Consensus on a Single Triage Scale for Clients with a Mental Illness in Australian Emergency Departments. Journal of Clinical Nursing. Vol 1(5-6), 712-715.

Reid-Searl, K., Dwyer, T., Happell, B., Moxham, L., Kahl, J., Morris, J., & Wheatland, N. (2009). Caring for children with complex emotional and psychological disorders: attitudes of nurses in a rural paediatric unit.  Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Happell B., Moxham L., Reid-Searl K., Dwyer T., Kahl J., Morris J. and Wheatland, N. (2009). Promoting mental health care in a rural paediatric unit through Participatory Action Research. Australian Journal of Rural Health. Vol 17(3), 155-160.

McCann, T., Moxham, L., Usher, K. and Crookes, P. (2009). Mental health content of comprehensive pre-registration nursing curricula in Australia. Journal of Research in Nursing. Vol 14(6). 519-530.


Newman C, Martin E, McGarry DE, Cashin A.

Newman C, Martin E, McGarry DE, Cashin A. Survey of a videoconference community of professional development for rural and urban nurses. Rural and Remote Health 9 (online), 2009: 1134. Available here


Dr Edward White

White E [1986] Factors influencing General Practitioners to refer patients to community psychiatric nurses. Chapter 12. In: Brooking J [Ed], Psychiatric Nursing Research. Wiley, Chichester. [ISBN 0 471 90907 6]. This was the first British collection of research studies concerning psychiatric nursing practice and education. Available here

White E and Brooker C [1991] The Care Programme Approach. Nursing Times, 87:12, pp 66-67  An UK initiative to focus on the needs people with long-term mental illnesses. Available here 

White E and Brooker C [2001] Community Mental Health Nursing; a census of England and Wales. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 38:1, pp 61-70 [ISSN 00207489]. This was voted by the UK Royal College of Nursing Research Society into Nursing Research's Top 50 ‘most influential piece of nursing research over the past 50 years’ [2009] Available here

Dr Edward White is the former Research Officer, UK Community Psychiatric Nurses Association [1989‑92] and former Director, Board of Research, Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc [2001-2007]. He is a senior career academic and, for 13 years, was a University Research Professor, before becoming a Director, Osman Consulting Pty Ltd, Sydney. These three articles have been posted for readers who may be interested in the international historical similarity with the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program and the Partners in Recovery initiative, in Australia. He is reminded of the adage 'Need a new idea? Read an old report'. He can be contacted directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr Dr is e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view i


Dr Edward White and Dr Julie Winstanley

White E and Winstanley J [2011] Clinical Supervision for mental health professionals: the evidence base. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 14:3, pp73-90 [ISSN: 0953-5225] Available here

Winstanley J and White E [2011] The MCSS-26©: revision of The Manchester Clinical Supervision Scale© using the Rasch Measurement Model. Journal of Nursing Measurement, 19:3, pp160-178 [ISSN 10613749] Available here


Publications by Non-Members

The following publications are available and may be of interest to members and mental health nurses:

Prof Charles Brooker

An investigation into the prevalence of mental health disorder and patterns of health service access in a probation population.
National Institute for Health Research
Criminal Justice and HEalth Research Group
University of Lincoln, England
Executive Summary available here
Full report: email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Len Bowers et al 2009

Bowers, L., Brennan, G., Winship, G., Theodoridou, C., (2009) ‘Communication skills for nurses and others spending time with people who are very mentally ill’. City University, London.  Weblink


National Mental Health Plan & Strategy

4th National Mental Health Plan 2009-2014 Weblink

4th National Mental Health Strategy Weblink

Please send any links to articles and publications of interest to the >This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Publishing your work

There are many options for publishing your work - here are some options for mental health nurses:

International Journal of Mental Health Nurses


The International Journal of Mental Health Nursing is the official English journal of the Australian and New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses Inc, and publishes original research articles dealing with current trends and developments in mental health practice and research.

The acceptance criteria for all papers are the quality and originality of the research and its significance to our readership. Except where otherwise stated, manuscripts are peer reviewed by two anonymous reviewers and the Editor. The Editorial Board reserves the right to refuse any material for publication and advises that authors should retain copies of submitted manuscripts and correspondence as material cannot be returned. Final acceptance or rejection rests with the Editorial Board.

The Journal conducts an electronic review process so manuscripts must be submitted in an electronic version to ScholarOne Manuscripts. Submit a manuscript now.

Read the IJMHN guidelines for authors.


International Journal of Mental Health Systems

International Journal of Mental Health Systems is interested in receiving manuscripts on all aspects of mental health system development and reform. There is an urgent need to focus on the development of effective, appropriate, affordable and equitable mental health systems; IJHMS aims to be a home for research, debate and discussion in this area.

All articles published by IJMHS are covered by an open access license agreement which means that anyone with internet access can read, download, redistribute and reuse published articles. Your published article can then be posted on your personal or institutional homepage, e-mailed to friends and colleagues, printed, archived in a collection, distributed on CD-ROM, included in coursepacks, quoted in the press, translated and further distributed as often and widely as possible.

Submit your manuscript


Books, Books and more books... by Members!

The ACMHN is proud to support our very talented members who have been involved in the publication of books related to mental health nursing and/or mental health - either as editors, writers or contributors.

We are pleased to offer you the following recommendations (listed in no particular order):


Karen-leigh Edward, Chris Alderman (2013) Psychopharmacology: Practice and Contexts. Oxford University Press

Buy this book online


Catherine Hungerford, Richard Clancy, Donna Hodgson, Tony Jones, Anthony Harrison, and Chris Hart (2012) Mental Health Care: an Introduction for Health Professionals. Wiley Blackwell, QLD

Buy this book online


Patricia Barkway (2009) Psychology for Health Professionals. Churchill Livingstone, Sydney.

Buy this book online


Gerard Byrne & Christine Neville (2009) Community Mental Health for Older People. Elsevier, Sydney

Buy this book online


Dr Karen-leigh Edward, Dr Ian Munro, Alan Robins & Anthony Welch (2011) Mental Health Nursing: Dimensions of Praxis. Oxford University Press

Buy this book online


Ruth Elder, Katie Evans, Debra Nizette (2012) Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing: 3rd Edition. Mosby Elsevier, Sydney.

Buy this book online


Brenda Happell, Leanne Cowin, Cath Roper, Kim Foster & Rose McMaster (2008) Introducing Mental Health Nursing: A Consumer Oriented Approach. Allen & Unwin Sydney.

Buy this book online

clinsuperhappell Lisa Lynch, Kerrie Hancox, Brenda Happell and Judith Parker  (2008) Clinical Supervision for Nurses. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford.

Buy this book online

Margaret McAllister, (2006) Solution Focused Nursing: Rethinking Practice. Palgrave Macmillan UK

Buy this book online


Eimear Muir-Cochrane, Patricia Barkway, Debra Nizette (2010) Mosby's Pocket Book of Mental Health. Mosby Elsevier, Sydney.

Buy this book online


Debra Nizette, Margaret McAllister, Peta Marks (2012) Stories in Mental Health. Elsevier, Sydney

Buy this book online


Books by Non-Members...

Ok, we admit that there are some non-members who write great books too!

Here are some books we can recommend:


Phil Barker (Ed) (2009) Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing: The Craft of Caring 2nd Edition. Hodder Arnold. UK

Buy this book online

Note: many College members contributed to the development of this publication


Sandy Jeffs (2010) Flying with Paper Wings. SANE 2010 Book of the Year

Buy this book online

Award-winning poet and SANE Speaker Sandy Jeffs has lived with a severe form of
schizophrenia for over thirty years. Since diagnosis in 1976, Sandy has experienced
periods of depression, suicidal thoughts and psychosis. As part of her treatment,
Sandy has been prescribed countless medications and had multiple stays in
psychiatric hospitals and clinics. With sincerity and candour, Sandy shares her story: from an abusive childhood, in which she witnessed her father beat her mother, to an adolescence torn apart by a traumatic sexual assault, to a dramatic descent into suicidal withdrawal and psychosis at the age of 23. She also reflects on what helps her cope.

‘Flying with Paper Wings offers a privileged insight into the experience of managing a
severe mental illness,’ says SANE Australia’s Executive Director Barbara Hocking


Michael Birch (2011) Mediating Mental Health: Contexts, Debates and Analysis

Buy this book online

Mediating Mental Health offers a detailed critical analysis of therepresentation of mental health conditions across a range of fictionaland factual genres in film, television and radio, thus presenting anunderstanding of the ways in which media forms construct a mentalhealth space, portray the related realities and identities, organizemeaning about mental health through language, and addressesaudiences in respect of a range of mental health issues.


Suzette Poole (ED) Changing Times, Changing Places: From Tokanui Hospital to Mental Health Services in the Waikato 1910-2012

As Waikato's mental health sector undergoes its biggest change in years, a book has been launched highlighting the last 100 years of mental health services in the Waikato and combines factual history with peoples personal stories written in their own words.


Anthea Simcock with Lee-Anne Duncan Hidden in Front of Us

Buy this book online

Twenty four adult survivors of child abuse share their experiences of being children who desperately needed an adult to stand up for them. They also share their ideas about what could have been done to help. Their words and stories provide an insight into what each of us can do when we have a concern about a child.