Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


SWTP217 Social Work with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities


SWTP317 Mental Health and Social Work

Teaching organisation

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit will include lectures, small group discussions, skills workshops and LEO online activities.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Mental illness impacts on the welfare of many Australian individuals, affecting their capacity to work, sustain relationships, and live independent and satisfying lives. The AASW has recognised the necessity of social work graduates having a working knowledge of mental health problems and psychosocial interventions in order to be able to work with people experiencing mental health problems across a wide range of health and welfare settings. This unit provides foundational knowledge and skills for practice in these diverse areas. The aim of this unit is to prepare graduates for person centred, evidence based generic social work practice.

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:

LO1 - Articulate the roles and responsibilities of social workers in mental health practice (GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Analyse ethical issues and reflect critically on ethical dilemmas in mental health practice (GA3).

LO3 - Undertake social work assessment with diverse individuals, families, groups and communities (GA5);

LO4 - Apply selected theories to the development of policies, programs and services in mental health practice (GA5)

LO5 - Interpret and apply research skills to explore the evidence base for social work assessment to develop appropriate evidence based intervention plans (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6);

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 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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


On successful completion of this unit, students should have developed:

GA1 -  Demonstrated sense of identity as a professional social worker

GA2 - Sound understanding of and commitment to social work values and ethics to guide professional practice

GA3 - Ability to apply social work knowledge and interventions to respond effectively in meeting the needs of individuals, groups and communities in diverse settings, client groups and geographic locations

GA4 - Ability to apply knowledge of human behaviour and society, as well as the social, cultural, political, legal, economic and global contexts of practice to respond effectively within a human rights and social justice framework

GA5 - Ability to review, critically analyse and synthesise knowledge and values and a reflective thinking skill to inform professional judgement and practic

GA6 - Ability to apply research knowledge and skills to understand, evaluate and use research to inform practice and to develop, execute and disseminate research informed by practice.

GA7 - Demonstration of effective communication and interpersonal skills

GA8 - Ability to work with diversity and demonstrate respect for cultural difference

AASW Practice Standards 

This Unit has been mapped to the ACU Graduate Attributes, AASW Graduate Attributes and the AASW Practice Standards.  The following table sets out the broad relationship between the Learning Outcomes, Graduate Attributes and the AASW Practice Standards.

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

1.1 Practice in accordance with the Code of Ethics (2010). 

2.2 Behave in a professional manner and be accountable for all actions and decisions. 

4.1 Understand higher level systemic influences on people with respect to an area of practice. 


3.1 Work respectfully and inclusively with cultural difference and diversity. 

3.2 Respect, strive to understand and promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures. 

5.3 Use a range of social work methods and techniques appropriate to area of practice.


4.1 Understand higher level systemic influences on people with respect to an area of practice. 

4.4 Understand and articulate how and when theories, knowledge bases and knowledge sources inform practice 


4.1 Understand higher level systemic influences on people with respect to an area of practice. 

5.3 Use a range of social work methods and techniques appropriate to area of practice. 


4.3 Understand the role of research and evaluation in obtaining and generating new knowledge for practice

4.4 Understand and articulate how and when theories, knowledge bases and knowledge sources inform practice. 

5.3 Use a range of social work methods and techniques appropriate to area of practice.



Topics will include:

Understandings of mental health

  • social construction of mental health
  • prevalence of mental illness
  • national and state mental health policy
  • critical analysis of current policies

Diagnosis (DSM5 ICD-10), diagnostic systems and treatment modalities

  • schizophrenia
  • depression
  • anxiety disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • borderline personality disorders
  • eating disorders
  • post-traumatic stress disorder.

The experience of mental health problems 

  • stigma
  • powerlessness
  • marginality and disadvantage

Influences on mental health problems

  • age
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • socioeconomic status
  • geographical location

Mental health practice issues in specific populations

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional well-being
  • migrants and refugees 

Social Work Assessments in Mental Health – Theory and Practice.

  • case management

Contemporary approaches to mental health care

  • early intervention
  • relapse prevention
  • rehabilitation
  • recovery

Social work with people with mental health problems

  • evidence based practice
  • prevention and early intervention
  • recovery and relapse
  • consumer rights and perspectives 

Skills and values in assessment

  • social work assessment
  • assessing risk
  • reflection on personal and professional values
  • ethical dilemmas in practice

Social work interventions

  • recovery-focused mental health intervention
  • crisis intervention
  • suicide prevention
  • family work
  • CBT

Service provision

  • multidisciplinary teams 
  • Group and Community Work
  • working with families

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Lectures and Tutorials will incorporate small group, collaborative learning focused on Social Work practice in mental health. Case-based learning will be utilised enabling students to better understand and explore the application of theory to practice scenarios.

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of face-to-face lectures and interactive face to face tutorials. Lectures will provide students with foundational knowledge about mental health and illness and explore contemporary approaches to Social Work practice in mental health. Tutorials will provide students with opportunities to practice Social Work practice skills through case studies and role play.  


Assessment strategy and rationale

The unit has three assessment pieces, designed to assess different learning outcomes for the unit.  There is a focus on engaging with the research literature and applying knowledge in practice situations. The first assessment piece is a student presentation in class on a topic chosen by the student. This allows students a wide range of choice and a capacity to share ideas and knowledge from the broader mental health research literature.  In the past some students have chosen to focus on their own “lived experience” or chosen a topic because of its relevance to themselves or family member.

The second assessment tasks enable students to identify and connect relevant theory and research literature to a mental health topic 

The third assessment task asks students demonstrate their capacity to gather and organise information into a standardized assessment framework in response to a case study.  This test their skills in observation, analysis, and professional writing.  Students are then required to connect their assessment with theoretical concepts in mental health, particularly recovery theory.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Individual presentation: Opportunity to explore a specific area of mental health and develop presentation skills.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9


Enables students to explore and analyse a specific area of mental health and connect this to the research literature


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9

Case study analysis: Identify and develop the key social work skills necessary for conducting social work mental health assessments and interventions with individuals and families.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9

Representative texts and references

Austrian, S. (2005). Mental disorders, Medications and Clinical Social Work (3rd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.

Bland, R., Renouf, N., Tullgren, A. (2015). Social work practice in mental health. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H.,M. & Walker, R. (eds) (2014). Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait  Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice (2nd ed.).  Australian Government Department of Australia Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra.  

Dziegielewski, S. (2010). DSM-IV-TR in action (2nd ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley and Sons.

Gilbert, P. (2010). Social Work and Mental Health – the value of everything (2nd ed.). Lyme Regis, UK:), Russell House, UK.

Golightley, M. (2011), Social Work and Mental Health (4th ed.). Exeter, UK:), Learning Matters, UK.

Gould, N. (2010). Mental Health Social Work in context. London: Routledge. Context. University of Bath, UK. 

Karban, K. (2011). Social Work and Mental Health, Polity, UK.

Meadows, G., Farhall, J., Fossey, E., Grigg, M., McDermott, F., & Singh, B. (Eds.) (2012). Mental Health in Australia: Collaborative community practice (3rd ed.), South Melbourne Australia: Oxford University Press. 

Proctor, N., Hamer, H., McGarry, D., Wilson, R. & Froggatt, T. (2014). Mental Health – A Person Centred Approach, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.

Rogers, A. & Pilgrim, D. (2010)., A Sociology of Mental Health and Illness (4th ed), Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs