Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


All first year units (ALHT106 Psychology for Allied Health , BIOL121 Human Biological Science 1 , OTHY100 Foundations of Occupational Therapy ,OTHY101 Health and Occupation , OTHY103 Pathophysiology for Occupational Therapy ,OTHY104 Introduction to Evidence Based Practice and Measurement in Occupational Therapy ,UNCC100 Self and Community: Exploring the Anatomy of Modern Society , OTHY102 Musculoskeletal Structure and Function for Occupational Therapy )

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit introduces students to the complex nature of the work undertaken by occupational therapists with consumers in the mental health setting. A range of biopsychosocial and occupational therapy conceptual models are explored and utilised as theoretical frameworks for collaborative recovery based practice. Students will learn how to assess the symptoms of mental illness and how to faciliate person centred care planning and the delivery of evidence-based treatments that aim to maximise occupational performance within multidisciplinary contexts. Prior knowledge in relation to the contextual determinants of health will be extended here to include how to appropriately support the mental health recovery of people from diverse backgrounds including those from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Central to this unit is the voice of the consumer included as the first hand lived experiences of mental illness and through the direct involvement of consumers in the assessment of student learning.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with a range of perspectives, evidence and understanding of the challenges and enablers for mental health and the role of the occcupational therapist in the selection, construction and reasoning of occupation focused and person-centred goals for recovery.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO 1 - Discuss and describe the prevalence, aetiology, clinical features and impact on occupational performance of a range of mental health conditions; (ACU Graduate Attribute: 5, 8).

LO2 - Describe and evaluate recovery as an approach to support people with mental illness (ACU Graduate: 1 & 3)

LO3 - Apply and demonstrate recovery principles through the use of recovery-oriented language and  person centred care planning that prioritises consumer driven goals (ACU Graduate Attribute: 1, 3, 5, 9).  

LO4 - Review the efficacy and evidence base for occupation based therapies in mental health and relate these findings to recovery-oriented practice as documented in the National Practice Standards for the mental health workforce (Department of Health, 2013) (ACU Graduate: 4, 8 & 9).

LO5 - Apply the Model of Human Occupation process model to support professional reasoning in order to guide the selection of evidence based occupational therapy assessments, formulation and interventions that promote recovery (ACU Graduate Attributes: 1, 4, 8, 9).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

AOTCS 2018

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed in this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism 

An occupational therapist practises in an ethical, safe, lawful and accountable manner, supporting client health and wellbeing through occupation and consideration of the person and their environment. 

An occupational therapist: 

1.1. Complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia’s standards, guidelines and Code of Conduct

1.2 Adheres to legislation relevant to practice

1.3 Maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships

1.4 Recognises and manages conflicts of interest in all client and professional relationships

1.5 Practises in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner, with particular respect to culturally diverse client groups

1.6 Incorporates and responds to historical, political, cultural, societal, environmental and economic factors influencing health, wellbeing and occupations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

1.7 Collaborates and consults ethically and responsibly for effective client-centred and interprofessional practice.

2, 3, 4,

Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning 

An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning. 

An occupational therapist: 

2.1 Applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice

2.2 Applies theory and frameworks of occupation to professional practice and decision-making

2.3 Identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decision-making

2.4 Understands and responds to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health philosophies, leadership, research and practices

2.6 Maintains and improves currency of knowledge, skills and new evidence for practice by adhering to the requirements for continuing professional development

2.7 Implements a specific learning and development plan when moving to a new area of practice or returning to practice

2.9 maintains knowledge of relevant resources and technologies 


Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice 

An occupational therapist’s practice acknowledges the relationship between health, wellbeing and human occupation, and their practice is client-centred for individuals, groups, communities and populations. 

An occupational therapist: 

3.1 addresses occupational performance and participation of clients, identifying the enablers and barriers to engagement

3.2 addresses occupational performance and participation of clients, identifying the enablers and barriers to engagement

3.3 collaborates with the client and relevant others to determine the priorities and occupational therapy goals

3.4 develops a plan with the client and relevant others to meet identified occupational therapy goals

3.5 selects and implements culturally responsive and safe practice strategies to suit the occupational therapy goals and environment of the client

3.6 seeks to understand and incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Peoples’ experiences of health, wellbeing and occupations encompassing cultural connections

3.7 reflects on practice to inform and communicate professional reasoning and decision-making

3.8 identifies and uses practice guidelines and protocols suitable to the practice setting or work environment

3.12 uses effective collaborative, multidisciplinary and interprofessional approaches for decision-making and planning


Standard 4 – Communication

Occupational therapists practise with open, responsive and appropriate communication to maximise the occupational performance and engagement of clients and relevant others. 

An occupational therapist:

4.1 communicates openly, respectfully and effectively

4.2 adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context 

4.4 uses culturally responsive, safe and relevant communication tools and strategies 

4.10 seeks and responds to feedback, modifying communication and/or practice accordingly



Introduction to mental health practice 

  • Valuing recovery
  • Aetiology, prevalence and clinical features
  • Mental health care nationally and internationally
  • Ethical and medico-legal issues

Mental health conditions 

  • In Childhood and Adolescence
  • In Adulthood and  Old age  
  • Mood disorders
  • Psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Trajectory across the life span
  • Impact on occupational performance

Assessment and intervention

  • Application of classification systems:
  • Mental status examination 
  • Assessment and management of risk 
  • Suicide prevention 
  • Mental health promotion and early intervention
  • Service delivery models
  • Multidisciplinary biopsychosocial interventions
  • Recovery model 
  • Augmentative psychological theories

Occupational therapy in mental health 

  • Occupational therapy process and clinical reasoning
  • Application of occupational therapy theory
  • Using Model of Human Occupation in mental health practice
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Person -centred practice

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit will include lectures, tutorials, vignettes and self-directed learning. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities, demonstrating respect for the individual as an independent learner. This learning strategy has been chosen for this unit as it enables students to refine their skills in using existing professional knowledge and skills, identifying their own further learning needs, and efficiently undertaking new learning using self-directed means. This unit also values the ongoing involvement of consumers in the design and delivery of the mental health curriculum. This is consistent with a growing evidence base for the positive impact of consumer involvement in student learning and adheres to accreditation standards for occupational therapy courses. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit are linked in a developmental progressive sequence. This is a deliberate design feature. Assessment 1 focuses on the acquisition of new mental health knowledge, combined with the application of existing knowledge of occupational therapy theory, models and contextual determinants of health. Assessment 3 moves the emphasis from acquisition and focuses instead on the assimilation and application of knowledge. Using the same assessment format, students are supported to implement the feedback they received from Assessment1, to progress to the final stages of person centred care planning.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Assignment: Requires students to apply the Kielhofner OT Process Model and P-CCP to a vignette and provide clinical reasoning to support and justify the administration of an occupational therapy assessment tool. 


1, 2, 4, 5

1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9

Exam: requires students to demonstrate their understanding and application of core learning undertaken within the unit including materials from lectures and tutorials.


1, 2, 3, 4, 5

4, 5, 9

Oral Presentation: Requires students to apply the Kielhofner OT Process Model and P-CCP to a vignette and provide clinical reasoning and evidence from the evidence-based reading portfolio to support assessment choices and justify plans for therapy.  


1, 2, 4

3, 4, 8

Representative texts and references

Meadows, G., Singh, B., & Grigg, M. (2012). Mental health in Australia: Collaborative community practice (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Bryant, W., Fieldhouse, J. & Bannigan, K. (2014) Creek's Occupational Therapy and Mental Health (5th edition). Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone. 

Tondora, J., Miller, R., Slade, M., Davidson, L. (2014). Partnering for Recovery in Mental Health: A Practical Guide to Person-Centered planning. Wiley-Blackwell University Press.

Brown, C., & Stoffel, V.C. (Eds), Occupational therapy in mental health: A vision for participation. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.

Davidson, L. et al (2009). A practical guide to recovery-oriented practice: Tools for transforming mental health care. Oxford; New YorkOxford University Press                        

Hemphill-Pearson, B. J. (2008). Assessments in occupational therapy mental health: an integrative approach (2nd ed.). Thorofare, N.J.: SLACK.

Kielhofner, G. (2008). A model of human occupation: theory and application (4th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Kielhofner, G. (2006). Research in occupational therapy: methods of inquiry for enhancing practice. Philadelphia, Pa.: F.A. Davis.

Sadock, B. J., Kaplan, H. I., & Sadock, V. A. (2007). Kaplan & Sadock's synopsis of psychiatry: behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry(10th ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolter Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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