VU Online mental health student studying on their laptop.
VU Online mental health student studying on their laptop.

Articulating from a Graduate Certificate into a Masters Mental Health Course

Mental Health
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Mental Health Nursing

As a postgraduate student, you may have noticed that there are several differing pathways you can take through higher education to achieve your goals – from a graduate certificate to masters degree and everything else.

As a lifelong learner, you can align your studies with your career, boosting your knowledge when needed and working around obstacles such as busy schedules, prerequisites and other commitments.

What is articulating in postgraduate education?

Articulation is the process of getting credit for units completed in a course when moving into a higher qualification.

So, if you’ve completed a graduate certificate, you can articulate into a masters degree with advanced standing, which means you will receive credit or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

For VU Online’s mental health courses, the four units you complete from your graduate certificate can be credited to your masters degree, meaning instead of needing to complete 12 units to receive your masters degree, you will only need to complete an additional eight units.

Articulating lets you slow down your studies if you want to, and it also gives you the opportunity to continue into a higher qualification that you may not have considered.

Let’s take a closer look at how articulation works in our mental health courses and how further study can help you meet the demands for mental health experts in Australia.

The rising demand for mental health professionals

You don’t have to look hard to find news headlines about the ‘mental health crisis’ that we’re currently experiencing in Australia. Across the country, people are waiting months to see a psychologist – and that’s just one example of the demand for mental health services.

It’s not just adults that are seeking support to improve their mental health, but also children and adolescents. According to a survey by the government’s National Mental Health Commission, 40 per cent of children and young people say the pandemic has negatively impacted their wellbeing.

The demand for professionals in mental health has never been greater. Australia requires more qualified mental health professionals across industries.

Already in Queensland, social workers and allied health professionals are providing support for mental health issues. In Western Australia, counsellors and peer support workers are also providing mental health support services.

VU Online’s mental health courses make positive interventions like these possible.

What’s the difference between a graduate certificate and masters degree in mental health?

With a Graduate Certificate in Mental Health, Mental Health Nursing or Child and Adolescent Mental Health, you’ll acquire a strong foundation in mental health practice and effective trauma-informed care, that will enhance your existing skills and your current role.

However, with a masters degree, you’ll develop the skills you need to take your abilities and your career to the next level.

Why should you articulate into a masters degree? Does it mean you have to complete more units?

If you haven’t already looked at a masters degree with VU Online, you may be surprised to find that all four units of the graduate certificate are also included in the masters degree.

What that means is, when you complete your graduate certificate, you’re already a third of the way through a masters degree. That’s where the articulation comes in – when you start your masters course, you’ll receive credit for the four units you’ve already completed.

What are the benefits of a graduate certificate versus a masters degree?

The main differences between a graduate certificate and a masters degree are your time commitment, the level of knowledge you’ll gain and your future career prospects.

A graduate certificate is great choice if you want to update your knowledge and apply it to your workplace as soon as possible. With an eight-month study commitment, graduate certificates are also popular with students who are considering a career change and want to test the waters first.

Once you’ve completed your graduate certificate, you’ll have a well-polished study process and you can decide if you’d like to continue your studies with a masters degree.

A masters degree is ideal for students who want to explore a discipline in depth over two years. Masters degree graduates will likely command higher salaries and are typically perceived as experts in their field.

What courses do VU Online offer in mental health? Who are they for?

VU Online offers a range of courses for people who want to drive positive impact in mental health. All these courses are accelerated, focused, flexible and supported, allowing you to graduate sooner than you would studying a typical part-time course.

They’re also 100 per cent online, which means no on-campus commitments.

Mental Health

The Graduate Certificate and Master of Mental Health are for allied health and social care professionals.

There are several fields that could benefit from specialist mental health skills including:

  • Dietetics
  • Exercise physiology
  • Occupational therapy
  • Rehabilitation counselling
  • Social work
  • Aged care
  • Disability support services

With the graduate certificate, professionals working in any of these areas can expect to increase their specialist knowledge and employment outcomes across mental health settings.

However, with the masters degree you can learn how to lead multidisciplinary teams to transform mental health services. This will broaden your career opportunities and allow you to take on more senior roles.

Mental Health learning outcomes

To become a mental health worker in Australia, you need a strong theoretical foundation in mental health. You also need to understand how policy works alongside support services.

The Graduate Certificate of Mental Health offers a solid foundation of mental health knowledge. It also covers recovery-oriented mental health as well as biopsychosocial and cultural perspectives.

Articulating into the masters degree will help you develop your understanding of mental health policy so that you have the awareness to advocate for better mental health outcomes.

The Master of Mental Health gives you an opportunity to deconstruct national and international policies, such as those that address addictive behaviours. You’ll also use critical appraisal tools to investigate evidence-based research and its application in healthcare.

Mental Health career opportunities

According to 2021 data from Burning Glass, the number of job postings that required skills for working in mental health almost doubled in the five years up to 2020.

On top of that, working with mental health was one of the most requested specialised skills across all jobs in 2020.

With the Master of Mental Health, you’ll gain work-based knowledge and skills in evidence-based assessment and intervention approaches to meet the criteria of these sorts of job opportunities.

Mental Health Nursing

The Graduate Certificate and Master of Mental Health Nursing are for registered nurses, including those working in midwifery. You also have the option of completing your Graduate Diploma in Mental Health.

If you’re already working as a nurse but want to take your career in a new direction, you may be wondering what mental health nurses do. This is a fascinating field, but requires lots of expertise.

A Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing will help you grow your knowledge and develop a foundation in the field of mental health nursing. However, it will not empower you to become a credentialled mental health nurse.

If you would like to become a credentialled mental health nurse, you will need to complete your Graduate Diploma or Master of Mental Health Nursing. These degrees meet the education requirements for the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses’ (ACMHN) Credential, although there are other requirements such as practical experience and registration that you will need to fulfill.

Mental Health Nursing learning outcomes

The Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing can be the first step in expanding your nursing practice, developing your understanding of mental health and giving you skills you can apply to your current role.

By articulating from the Graduate Certificate of Mental Health Nursing into a Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing or Master of Mental Health Nursing, you’ll open a number of additional learning outcomes.

This masters degree builds on your nursing practice and develops your ability to formulate and lead the delivery of safe, ethical, recovery-oriented, trauma-informed mental health nursing care.

The Master of Mental Health Nursing also offers electives so you can customise the course to your interests. You can choose to focus on psychological therapies, perspectives on addictive behaviours, health and wellbeing for the older person, or nursing leadership and management.

Mental Health Nursing career opportunities

According to 2021 data from Burning Glass, there was 72 per cent growth in job postings for mental health nurses from 2015 to 2020.

This masters degree will position you to take on coordination and clinician roles, leadership roles, as well as jobs in senior mental health services or sessional academic work.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health

VU Online the only university qualification for child and adolescent mental health in Australia.

The Graduate Certificate of Child and Adolescent Mental Health has been designed for professionals who want to drive positive impact in child and adolescent mental health across a variety of settings. These include:

  • Educational settings
  • Therapeutic settings
  • Community contexts
  • Clinical settings

Like the other two mental health courses, this graduate certificate develops foundational knowledge in mental health and trauma-informed care, and also focuses on child and adolescent mental health, engagement and assessment.

It’s a valuable resource for anyone who works with young people, their families, carers, educators and communities.

The Master of Child and Adolescent Mental Health is a great option for educators, as well as allied health and social care professionals. This course explores advanced care strategies, relevant treatment techniques, therapies and interventions, giving you more depth of knowledge in this area than the graduate certificate. It will empower you to drive interventions in schools and family contexts.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health learning outcomes

The four units of the Graduate Certificate in Child and Adolescent Mental Health will prepare you to conduct responsible, safe and ethical risk assessments for young people. You’ll also develop a working understanding of the foundational principles of trauma-informed care and practice.

However, as you articulate into the masters degree, you’ll upgrade your ability to contribute to the advancement of child and adolescent mental health knowledge and practice through the design and evaluation of research.

In fact, you’ll have the potential to apply principles, strategies, and techniques to assess, plan and deliver a range of recovery oriented psychosocial treatment options for children and adolescents.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health career opportunities

To help meet the increased demand for mental health services, both federal and state governments are working together to create a network of mental health and wellbeing centres, including 15 Head to Health Kids Hubs.

These hubs will deliver family friendly and culturally safe care with multidisciplinary teams of medical, allied health, psychology, and early childhood development experts.

This masters degree will prepare you well for supporting mental health in early childhood.

In addition to direct mental health care roles, this masters degree can be applied in a number of jobs such as cultural support roles, occupational therapists, social workers and speech pathologists.

The benefits of articulating into your masters degree

The great thing about articulating from a graduate certificate to a masters degree is that you’ve probably already established an effective study routine.

The main thing to remember is that after you’ve completed your graduate certificate in eight months, you’ll have just 16 months to go on to your masters. That means you could complete your masters degree in two years part-time total.

Study tips for undertaking a masters degree

The key to successful study is planning.

So, as soon as you get your course details, map out your time commitments in your diary. Remember to include time for self-directed study, block out your work hours and schedule some rest and relaxation breaks as well.

If you haven’t already, create a dedicated space for study and let your family and friends know that’s what you’re doing so you won’t be interrupted.

And make the most of the support that’s available to you from VU Online.

Why study mental health with VU Online?

Postgraduate study with VU Online comes with four layers of personalised support for both academic and non-academic success.

Your Online Facilitator provides 1:1 academic support on the phone, email or SMS seven days a week, including evenings.

Your Unit Coordinator delivers live weekly online office hours for coursework support, as well as fortnightly teaching seminars.

Your Student Success Advisor (SSA) is on hand Monday to Friday by phone or email to help you with non-academic queries and to assist with administrative processes. They can also help you balance the study load and guide you through study options.

Your SSA can also guide you through the process of articulating from your graduate certificate into your masters degree, making the experience even smoother.

You will also have access to VU Online’s network of personalised counselling, IT, library, language, literacy and numeracy support services make up the fourth layer of support.

On top of all this support, VU Online’s award-winning postgraduate Block Model has redefined the course structure to let you focus on one subject in one block (or study period) at a time. Each block runs for six weeks and there’s six blocks a year – which means you can complete six subjects per year to graduate faster.

Learn more about the Master of Mental Health, Master of Mental Health Nursing and the Master of Child and Adolescent Mental Health.