Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


ALHT106 Psychology for Allied Health AND OTHY101 Health and Occupation AND OTHY104 Introduction to Evidence Based Practice and Measurement in Occupational Therapy OR OTHY108 Evidence-Based Practice and Health Conditions

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 used as theoretical frameworks for collaborative recovery-based practice. Students will learn how to assess the symptoms of mental illness and how to facilitate person-centred care planning and delivery of evidence-based interventions within multidisciplinary contexts that aim to enable participation. Prior knowledge in relation to the social determinants of health will be extended here to include how to appropriately support the mental health recovery of people from diverse backgrounds including First Peoples. Central to this unit is the voice of the consumer included as the first-hand lived experience of mental illness and through the direct involvement of consumers in the assessment of student learning. Simulated professional practice learning experiences provide the opportunity for students to apply their knowledge and skills. 

This unit contains a learning outcome from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (HCF, 2014) specifically addressing the HCF cultural capability Communicate.

The overall aim of this unit is to provide students with a range of perspectives, evidence and understanding of the determinants of mental health and the role of the occupational therapist in occupation-focused and person-centred 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:

LO1 - Discuss and describe a range of mental health conditions and explore the impact on occupational performance. (GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Describe and evaluate recovery as an approach to support people with mental illness and apply and demonstrate recovery principles through the use of recovery-oriented language and person-centred care planning that prioritises consumer driven goals (GA1, GA3, GA5, GA9)

LO3 - Observe and analyse a Mental State Examination and Risk Assessment and then develop and document a management plan that supports Recovery while meeting medico-legal standards. (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4)

LO4 - Apply the Model of Human Occupation through the therapeutic reasoning process to guide the selection of evidence-based occupational therapy assessments, formulation, goal setting and occupation based interventions that promote recovery (GA1, GA4, GA8, GA9)

LO5 - HCF 7.1 Describe the concept of strengths-based knowledge and communication and how this is used to balance problem-based perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and peoples (GA1, GA9) 

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.

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

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 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

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

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4,LO5

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

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5


Foundations for mental health practice

  • Understanding mental health and wellbeing
  • Recovery
  • Recovery Model and principles
  • Valuing the lived experience
  • Recovery-oriented language
  • Self management strategies
  • Biopsychosocial approaches
  • Consumer involvement
  • Mental health service provision nationally
  • Ethical and medico-legal issues
  • Service delivery models
  • Stepped Care
  • NDIS
  • Mental health promotion and early intervention
  • Multidisciplinary team working
  • Professional self-care and resilience
  • Evidence-based practice


Mental health factors impacting participation  

  • Across the lifespan
  • Mood disorders
  • Psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Gender and sexual identity
  • Societal and self-stigma


Occupational therapy in mental health

  • Applying the Model of Human Occupation in mental health practice
  • Model of Human Occupation Therapeutic Reasoning Process
  • Model of Human Occupation assessments
  • Occupational formulation documentation
  • Occupational and activity analysis


Mental State Assessment and Risk

  • Mental status examination
  • Risk Assessment
  • Documentation and management of risk


Preparation for and engagement in simulated professional practice learning experiences


Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and Teaching approaches included in this unit were developed in collaboration with First Peoples’ Cultural Advisors. Teaching and learning approaches for this unit will include lectures, tutorials, vignettes, simulated cases and self-directed learning. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities. 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. Students will participate in simulated professional practice learning experiences to apply their knowledge and skills of recovery-oriented practice, mental state examination, risk assessment and occupational formulation using vignettes. 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. Students are supported to apply Kielhofner’s therapeutic reasoning process to vignettes, with each assessment task focusing on different stages of the process. Assessment one was developed with First Peoples cultural mentors.

The simulated professional practice learning experiences introduce students to the consumers from the vignettes. Interactions between students and consumers provide students with the information and knowledge required to complete the assessment tasks. Students are supported to implement the feedback they receive from each assessment task and from the simulated professional practice learning experiences, to progress to the final stage of developing a plan for intervention. The simulated professional practice learning experiences have been developed to meet the recommended guidelines for simulation including authenticity, complexity, immediacy to practice, student assessment and use of multiple modalities.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Assignment:

To demonstrate the ability to apply Kielhofner’s therapeutic reasoning process by generating theory-driven questions, reasoning for administering assessments and reflection on the application of Recovery principles. 


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Written Assignment:

To analyse mental state, risk and occupational therapy assessments from the simulated learning experience, demonstrating professional reasoning through occupational formulation and goal setting.   


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA9

Oral Presentation:

To develop a recovery plan that demonstrates professional reasoning


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA8


Gain a satisfactory rating for the Occupational Therapy Student Competencies on the SPEF-R (Student Practice Evaluation Form – Revised Edition) by the conclusion of the simulated professional practice placement.  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Bryant, W., Fieldhouse, J., & Bannigan, K.(Ed) (2014). Creek's occupational therapy and mental health (5th ed.). Churchill Livingstone.

Brown, C., & Stoffel, V. C. (Eds.). (2019). Occupational therapy in mental health: A vision for participation (2nd ed.). F.A. Davis Company.

Davidson, L., Tondora, J., Staheli Lawless, M., O’Connell., & Rowe, M. (2009). A practical guide to recovery-oriented practice: Tools for transforming mental health care. Oxford University Press.                   

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

Parkinson, S., & Brooks, R. (2021). What is a formulation? In A guide to the formulation of plans and goals in occupational therapy (pp. 8-23): Routledge.

Taylor, R. R. (Ed.) (2017). Kielhofner's Model of Human Occupation (5th ed.). Wolters KluwerMeadows, G., Singh, B., & Grigg, M. (2012). Mental health in Australia: Collaborative community practice (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press

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