Components of the National Framework for Postgraduate Mental Health Nursing Education

An examination of the assumptions underpinning the National Framework and Implications led to an examination of the context of the mental health nursing specialty and the requirements for postgraduate studies.Building on the Mental Health Nurse Education Taskforce (MHNET) study focussing on undergraduate mental health nurse education, this framework uses similar components: 


Mental health care is relevant to all aspects of nursing curricula. Consumers together with their families/carers are at the centre of designs for mental health services. Consistent with this premise, consumers and their families/carers are central to mental health nursing practice and education. The value statements outlined in the National Framework refer to mental health nursing practice and the centrality of the role of these values in mental health nursing care and education.

The core values underpin the practice of mental health nursing in the expression of all its roles and functions as well as in the practice of mental health nursing postgraduate education. The expression of the values in both areas of practice, are articulated through the principles that inform the execution of the practices. The core values and related principles identified drive the identification of the core concepts, content, and design and implementation of the postgraduate mental health nursing curricula.



In the current environment there is a priority for work ready graduates who can respond to the demands of specialised practice in complex and dynamic contexts of care. While there are many ways to express ‘learning outcomes’, in any education for the professions, the learning outcomes need to be expressed as they are applied in actual practice. The education experience must go beyond providing acquisition of knowledge and skills to the ‘application of those knowledge and skills in the context of practice’. The learning outcomes identified in the National Framework for Postgraduate Mental Health Nursing Education are expressed as the ‘abilities required’ of the graduate in order to practise in the specialty of mental health nursing. The statement of these abilities builds on the MHNET (2008) outcomes of mental health content in pre-registration nursing curricula aligned to the ANMC Competency Standards (2005). 

Graduate Abilities as defined in the National Framework reflect the expectations of the profession and the consumers, their families/carers, and are expressed as generic to all Postgraduate Mental Health Nursing programs.  



Benchmarks should be used to guide best practice in developing and implementing PG mental health nursing curricula. The benchmarks outlined in the national framework have been adopted from the values and prinicples for nursing curricula. Indicators of evidence of the benchmars should be demonstrated in curriculum documents (e.g. subject/unit outlines, assessments, clinical placement records and schedules), as well as student evaluations, formal agreements with clinical agencies, and active and meaningful involvement of mental health consumer and family/carer representatives. 

 A PDF copy of the Framework can be downloaded here.