Mental Health and Illness

Subject 514-758 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 25.00
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

On campus

For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: TOTAL: 214 hours (54 lectures, 160 clinical practicum)
Total Time Commitment:

Students are expected to devote approximately 36 hours a week (for 3 weeks) to this subject and 40 hours per week for four weeks during clinical practicum.



Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: This subject requires students to actively and safely contribute to clinical activities. Students who feel their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter with the Nursing Course Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


School of Nursing and Social Work
The University of Melbourne
Level 5, 234 Queensberry St
Carlton Victoria 3053 AUSTRALIA
T: +61 3 8344 9400
F: +61 3 9347 4375

Subject Overview:

This subject introduces students to an understanding of the dimensions of the nursing role in mental health and illness of individuals across the life-span. Students will examine the principles and practices of psychiatric, mental health nursing for patients experiencing an acute or chronic mental illness. This subject will explore and discuss: National Mental Health Plan, major psychiatric disorders, mental health law, psychiatric nursing assessment, advocacy, consumer involvement, collaborative care models, and treatment services. The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of psychotropic medication and issues related to medication management for people experiencing mental illness will be discussed.

In the clinical practicum under the guidance of clinical educators/ preceptors, students will gain experience in acute, sub acute or community psychiatric services that enable them to meet the learning objectives of this subject .

The major focus for the clinical practicum component of this subject is the integration of the principles of psychiatric mental health nursing and clinical decision making. On completion of the subject it is expected that students, while providing therapeutic interventions are able to incorporate the further collection of health assessment data and adjust care accordingly for 1-2 patients.


At the completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • Identify and be cognisant of the National Mental Health Plan and integrate DHS clinical practices guidelines where relevant;
  • describe the aetiology, presentation and management of the major psychiatric disorders;
  • express positive attitudes to the care of people experiencing mental health problems;
  • utilise strategies that facilitate therapeutic client relationships and actively involve clients in their treatment & care;
  • demonstrate the ability to collect assessment data using a comprehensive nursing framework which includes mental status examination and risk assessment;
  • utilise data collected to develop a nursing care plan for patients experiencing acute or chronic mental illness;
  • demonstrate analytical skills by incorporating the theoretical principles of clinical decision making into their patient care plans;
  • discuss and demonstrate in practice the legal and ethical principles related to medication administration, involuntary treatment & detention and the documentation of nursing care;
  • implement nursing care for clients under the supervision of a clinical educator or preceptor.

Theoretical component - 60%

  1. 2,000-word case study (week 7) - 25%
  2. Three-hour written examination (exam week) - 35%

Clinical component (week 13) - 40%

3. Clinical Practicum equivalent to 3,000 words inclusive of: performance appraisal assessment; 4 x 250-word clinical event analyses 4 x 250-word medication logs

Hurdle Requirement

4. 15-minute drug calculation test Students must pass the theoretical, clinical and hurdle components to achieve a pass in the subject

Prescribed Texts: Bullock, S., Manias, E., & Galbraith, A. (2007). Fundamentals of pharmacology (5 th ed.). Australia: Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education

Gatford, J., & Phillips, N. (2002). Nursing calculations (6 th ed.). Melbourne: Churchill Livingstone.

Meadows, G., Singh, B., & Grigg, M. (2007.) Mental health in Australia: Collaborative community practice (2 nd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Roper, C. (Ed.). (2003). Sight unseen: conversation between service receivers on mental health nursing and the psychiatric service system. Melbourne: CPNRP
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills: At the completion of this subject, students should be able to demonstrate:
  • the capacity for information seeking, retrieval and evaluation;
  • critical thinking and analytical skills;
  • an openness to new ideas;
  • cultural safety;
  • planning and time management skills;
  • the ability to work effectively in a team;
  • the ability to communicate knowledge through classroom and web-based discussions and written material.
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Master of Nursing Science

Download PDF version.