ABSTRACT: Knowledge about the practice and roles of mental health nurses in New Zealand is currently limited. In a sociopolitical climate where the views of users of mental health services are increasingly incorporated into education and the planning and delivery of services, there is a need for research that reflects the perspective of users. In this study a qualitative descriptive methodology with focus group interviews was used to explore with users of mental health services, the attitudes, knowledge and skills that they need in mental health nurses. Users of mental health services valued the therapeutic work of mental health nurses, and identified positive attitudes towards users of mental health services as essential in mental health nurses. However, they did not consistently experience a therapeutic approach in their interactions with mental health nurses.