Masters in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing

Type of Degree

The study cycle leading to the Master’s degree in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing, created by Decree Order No. 8519/2016, of june 30th, is composed of:
a)A specialization course in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing, which is organized into curricular units and corresponds to 65% (78 ECTS) of the total credits of the whole study cycle;
b)A scientific dissertation, original and especially elaborated for this purpose, which corresponds to 35% (42 ECTS) of the total credits of the whole study cycle.
Students are awarded the Master’s degree after the successful completion of the Specialization Course and the Scientific Dissertation defense.

2. Scientific areas and credits required for the Degree

Scientific Area





Education Sciences




Management and Administration
















3.Description and background
Mental health and its associated problems are one of the most sensitive health issues among the population. In fact, mental health-related problems constitute 13% of the global burden of disease (WHO, 2001), representing five out of the ten leading causes for disability (WHO, 2003). Considering that the magnitude of the populations’ mental health-related problems has a significant impact on individual suffering, social exclusion phenomena, and direct or indirect costs caused by mental disorders (WHO, 2003), the need for specialized training in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing is widely recognized, both by bodies of the European Union (2004) and international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2003, the WHO put forward a curriculum focused on the specialized training in mental health nursing following the general professional training.
Several countries have already defined a competencies profile for the Nurse Specialist in Mental Health and Psychiatry. In Portugal, the Ordem dos Enfermeiros has worked on the validation of a competencies profile for the General Care Nurse. Some studies and discussions were simultaneously conducted on the specific competencies for the Specialist Nurse in Mental Health and Psychiatry, which allowed for a theoretical reference to guide this definition.
In view of the above, in order to describe the profile of the specialist nurse with a Master’s degree, we will use a definition that includes the set of competencies, skills, aptitudes, general and specialized knowledge, techniques and procedures implemented within the work of specialized nursing, which are evaluated through a written exam and in the performance of the activities that characterize the professional practice. The definition of a profile of competencies of the nurse specialist in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing is already a reality in many countries. In Portugal, the Ordem dos Enfermeiros developed a project to validate a profile of competencies for generalist nurses. Simultaneously, some studies and debates were conducted about the specific competencies of mental health and psychiatric nurses, which allowed building a theoretical framework for this definition.

4.General objectives of the study cycle
The Master’s Degree in in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing is a specialized training aimed at preparing nurses to develop autonomous and interdependent activities in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing.
Its educational component, in addition to focusing on the professional practice and development, aims at achieving the key objectives of the higher education policies, providing nurses with the competencies that enable life-long learning, and the necessary knowledge and understanding skills so that nurses are able to: solve problems in new and/or complex contexts, and in extended and multidisciplinary settings; develop solutions and make judgments, including the consideration of any ethical and social implications; and clearly and unequivocally communicate.

5.Learning objectives/competences
After completing the Degree, the student shall be able:
-To value mental health in the integral development of the human being;
-To identify mental health problems in individuals, families, and community groups, throughout their life cycle;
-To plan nursing interactions to address and/or minimize mental health problems and mental disorders from a cross-cultural perspective;
-To provide specialized evidence-based care;
-To assess the care provided and establish feedback;
-To participate, along with other national and international health professionals, in the design, implementation and assessment of mental health care policies and projects aimed at improving the population’s well-being and quality of live;
-To participate in the management of care and health resources;
-Contribute to the development of nursing in general and in psychiatric and mental health nursing in particular, namely through research, education and training.

6.Degree Organization
The normal regime of the Master's Degree is composed of four semesters, in a total of two school years.
The curricular units are coordinated and taught by the school’s teaching staff, with the possible collaboration of external experts in this area.
The clinical teaching component takes place in health care institutions with the adequate learning conditions according to the established objectives.
The Scientific Dissertation must supervised by a PhD Professor or a specialist teacher, whose merit is recognized by the statutorily competent scientific body. The dissertation must be assessed and defended before a jury in accordance with Decree-Law No. 115/2013 of August 7th.
The students must achieve a score equal to or greater than 10 in every curricular unit.


Course Units Scientific Area Type Total hours T Hours TP Hours LP Hours S Hours CP/TG Hours TG Hours ECTS

T - Theoretical Classes; TP - Theoretical-Practical Classes; PL - Practical and Laboratorial Classes;
S - Seminar; CP/FW - Clinical Practice/Fieldwork; TG - Tutorial Guidance

ID Data File name

ID Data Notice title Notice

1st Semester
Maria Luísa da Silva Brito

2nd Semester
Maria Luísa da Silva Brito

3rd Semester
José Carlos Pereira dos Santos

4th Semester
José Carlos Pereira dos Santos