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  • Term Mode
  • ACU Term 2Online Unscheduled
  • ACU Term 4Online Unscheduled



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Individuals experiencing mental illness are reported to experience a significantly increased prevalence of physical health inequalities. Mental health practitioners must therefore be able to recognise and respond to these needs through the provision of holistic person-centred recovery-oriented interventions.

Within a cultural perspective the physical health of individuals with an underlying mental health condition, who experience the phenomenon of diagnostic overshadowing, will be explored. Challenges associated with coexisting health conditions, including alcohol and other drug use, psychopharmacological agents and the impact on the individual will be examined. Students will identify strategies and policies for health promotion, prevention and early intervention. Within a multidisciplinary team approach students will explore issues related to access and utilisation of health resources for recovery. This unit will broaden and enhance students' knowledge and skills in applying effective health promotion strategies for individuals with a mental health condition.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with the opportunity to critically evaluate the relationship between mental health and physical health, and the social inequalities of health experienced by individuals experiencing mental illness.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Explain the determinants of health and the physiological, personal, cultural and social factors that contribute to health and well-beingGC1, GC2, GC4, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC11
LO2Utilising a multidisciplinary approach, critically examine the physical health inequalities, access and equity issues and coexisting needs of individuals with mental illnessGC1, GC2, GC4, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC11
LO3Evaluate strategies that will support individual recovery through sensitive, effective and evidence-based mental health care for people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, communities, language groups, gender and sexual identitiesGC1, GC2, GC4, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC11


Topics will include:

Diversity and lifespan perspectives:

  • Neurodiversity
  • Mental health across the life span (e.g., CAMH, Aged Persons) 

Determinants of health

  • Genetic
  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Cultural perspectives

Coexisting conditions

  • Prevalence of coexisting conditions
  • Physical health needs of individuals with mental illness
  • Implications of coexisting needs on health care management
  • The role and impact of psychopharmacology
  • Alcohol and other drug use

Health promotion policy & plans

  • State policies & plans
  • National policies & plans

Health promotion

  • Goals of health promotion
  • Models of health promotion
  • Health promotion across the lifespan
  • Psychoeducation
  • Evidence based psycho-social interventions that assist in health promotion

 Health maintenance and prevention

  • Health lifestyle and health maintenance
  • Self-efficacy and self-management in health
  • Assessment and screening tools

 Health resources

  • Accessing services that support people who experience coexisting physical and mental conditions
  • Access and equity issues in health care
  • multidisciplinary team approach

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

ACU Online

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding and application, and to engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy used allows for the progressive development of knowledge and skills necessary for the student to be able to demonstrate ethical and effective professional practice in the delivery of recovery-oriented models of care to people experiencing physical health issues.

The assessments tasks are designed to align with the learning outcomes and content to ensure that students demonstrate an understanding of health promotion issues and social inclusion for the person with mental illness. Assessment 1, 2 and 3 are scaffolded to provide students with opportunity to first demonstrate their understanding of health promotion in mental health care through collaborative dialogue with peers and lecturers. The second assessment task requires students to demonstrate their understanding of social determinants that impact on the physical and mental health of a vulnerable population. The final assessment task is a capstone activity which requires students to draw on their learning from this unit in the application of health promotion and social inclusions strategies to clinical practice.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Written Assessment

Enables students to critically examine the social determinants that impact on the physical and mental health of a vulnerable population. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2: Case Study

This task provides an opportunity to apply health promotion and social inclusion strategies drawing on content from the topics covered in the unit. Students will be provided several case studies to choose from to create a response that relates to their work in mental health.


LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (2023). Social determinants of health.

Emerson, E., Fortune, N., Llewellyn, G. & Stancliffe, R. (2021). Loneliness, social support, social isolation and wellbeing among working age adults with and without disability: Cross-sectional study. Disability and Health Journal, 14(1); 100965.

Firth, J., Solmi, M., Wootton, R.E., Vancampfort, D., Schuch, F.B., Hoare, E., Gilbody, S. … Stubbs, B. (2020). A meta-review of “lifestyle psychiatry”: the role of exercise, diet and sleep in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders. World Psychiatry, 19(3); 360-380.

Foster, K., Marks, P., O'Brien. A. & Raeburn, T. (2022). Mental health in nursing, 5th ed. Elsevier 

Hercelinskjy, G. & Alexander, L. (2022). Mental health nursing: applying theory to practice. Revised Ed. Cengage: Singapore. 

Jenkins, R. (2019). Implementing mental health promotion approaches in mental health services. In: Barry, M.M., Clarke, A.M., Peterson, I., Jenkins, R. (eds). Implementing Mental Health Promotion. Springer, Cham.

Rhodes, D. & Byrne, M. (2021). Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ issues in primary initial teacher education programs. Social Inclusion, 9(2);

Van Spijker, B.A, Salinas-Perez, J., Mendoza, J., Bell, T., Bagheri, N., Furst, M., Reynolds, J., Rock, D., Harvey, A., Rosen, A & Salvador-Carulla, L. (2019). Service availability and capacity in rural mental health in Australia: Analysing gaps using an Integrated Mental Health Atlas. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 53(10); 1000-1012. Doi: 10.1177/0004867419857809.

Victorian Government (2023). Mental health promotion in Victoria. Retrieved from

World Health Organisation (2022). Social determinants of health. Retrieved from

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