Mental health workforce in Australia

Find out about registration requirements and what qualifications and career pathways lead to different roles in mental health.

Mental health professions

Every year, millions of Australians contact the mental health system and almost half of all Australians will experience mental ill-health in their lifetime. The mental health workforce is diverse to help treat a wide range of conditions.

Mental health professions are generally fall into 4 categories.

Medical mental health professionals

Medical mental health professionals have specialised medical training. Examples of these professions include:

  • psychiatrists
  • other medically trained specialists such as geriatricians and paediatricians who work in mental health
  • registrars and junior medical officers.

Tertiary qualified mental health professionals

This includes medical university trained (or equivalent) professionals, with a minimum 3-year bachelor degree in a discipline related to mental health care. It includes:

  • nurse practitioners
  • registered nurses
  • social workers
  • psychologists
  • occupational therapists
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health clinician
  • other relevant allied health professions.

Vocationally qualified mental health professionals

Vocationally qualified mental health professionals are typically not clinically trained and do not have a university qualification. They usually have a TAFE qualification up to Advanced Diploma level in mental health or a related area. It includes:

  • enrolled nurses
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workers
  • other vocationally qualified mental health workers.

Peer mental health worker

Peer mental health workers usually have lived experience as a mental health service consumer or mental health carer. A broad, inclusive approach to this category recognises that peer workers have a range of qualifications and may or may not receive formal training. Peer mental health workers include:

  • consumer peer workers
  • carer peer workers
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health peer workers.
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