Social Work Practice: Mental Health

Subject SCWK90038 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

September, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours (8 x 3 hour seminars)
Total Time Commitment:

24 contact hours

16 hours of class preparation and reading

24 hours of assessment related tasks

= 64 hours total time commitment

= 8 hours total time per week


Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student’s participation in the University’s courses. Students who think their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter with the Course Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Assoc Prof Louise Harms


Social Work
Melbourne School of Health Sciences
The University of Melbourne
Level 5, 234 Queensberry St
Carlton Victoria 3010 AUSTRALIA
T: +61 3 8344 9400
F: +61 3 9347 4375

Subject Overview:

This subject focuses on social work practice in the mental health field with particular emphasis on mental health policy and practice. Topics covered include the nature of mental illness and how consumers, their relatives and friends experience it, and contemporary approaches to treatment and recovery. Also examined is the national and state policy context, how services are organised, the particular contribution of social work practitioners, including core knowledge and skills, and the different settings in which they practice. A particular focus will be Victoria’s area-based mental health services, the local networks of inpatient and community-based services which replaced the large psychiatric institutions from 1994-2000.

The elective draws on guest lecturers to provide a broad range of perspectives. Guest lecturers will include those presenting the views of consumers and of family carers, as well as psychiatrists, social workers and other mental health professionals talking about their practice.

In addition to focusing on services for adults, mental health services for older people, and for children and youth will be explored. Issues relevant to Indigenous Australians and people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds will also be considered.


Learning objectives:

  • To develop an understanding of social work practice in the mental health field in Australia
  • To develop capacities to critically review social, cultural, organizational and ethical contexts of mental health practice
  • To increase knowledge of the policy context of practice
  • To develop skills in carrying out mental health status examinations and risk assessment practices
  1. A written essay 5,000 words due end of semester
Prescribed Texts: A reading pack will be available
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • critically analyse texts and practices;
  • understand recent developments in social work contexts of practice;
  • link theory to practice;
  • competently communicate in ways relevant to both academic and practice contexts;
  • undertake independent research.
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Master of Advanced Social Work
Master of Social Work

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