Supporting young people’s mental health: Meet Jacqui Cousins

Wednesday 23 June 2021


Credentialed Mental Health Nurses (CMHNs) are specialist nurses, recognised for their skills, expertise, and experience through the College’s Credential. In this special series, we hear from CMHNs about their love for the profession, and the benefits of being credentialed.


In this Q&A, ACMHN member and passionate mental health nurse Jacqui Cousins talks about the privilege of helping young people, and the special skills MHNs bring to the table when it comes to treating both chronic physical illnesses and mental health conditions.


Why did you choose to become a mental health nurse and how long have you been working in the profession?


I completed a graduate diploma in nursing practice (mental health) in 2015 after working as a youth health nurse for 10 years. I enrolled in the course to further develop my skills as our clinic was seeing a greater complexity of mental health problems.


What is your current role and what do you enjoy most about it?


I am working as a mental health clinician at headspace, counselling students who are struggling with school engagement. Supporting young people in their mental health recovery is a privilege and each young person has taught me so much about what is important in life.


How did getting credentialed help you in your career?


Becoming a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse (CMHN) has provided me with additional employment opportunities. Unfortunately, CMHNs are still underrepresented in counselling roles, so we need more nurses in these roles to show what value CMHNs bring to the sector!


What does being credentialed mean to you?


I remember wanting to be a psychologist when I was at school. I am living out that dream in a slightly different way as nurses, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists are same same but different. Nursing skills are much needed in community health to better support people who are struggling to manage both chronic physical illnesses and mental health conditions. I have also studied a master of public health, so I value working in roles which are focused on early intervention and recovery.


What advice would you give to MHNs who are considering getting credentialed? What should they keep in mind?


I recommend that MHNs interested in credentialing look up community mental health nursing jobs and see if the position descriptions are of interest. CMHNs are often working in roles that support people over the longer term so this will suit nurses who are passionate about psychosocial healthcare. I admire the work of all mental health nurses in both acute and community settings and believe that we operate at our best when we work together!

John Hurley is a Professor of mental health at Southern Cross University and works clinically at headspace Coffs Harbour as a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse. He has accumulated over 35 years’ experience as a mental health practitioner through developing and leading psychiatric crisis and home treatment services in both Australia and the United Kingdom.  He is currently the Vice President of the Board member for the College.

Jacqui Cousins


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