Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit develops advanced knowledge in the area of mental health problems for children and adolescents. It will assist teachers to identify the most common mental health disorders, develop an understanding of differential diagnoses, and processes for referral to relevant professionals. The unit will assist teachers to develop skills for collaboration with other professionals and agencies. Teachers will also be introduced to basic counselling. Finally, the unit will cover key issues in child mental health such as child protection, responses to grief and trauma and supporting schools through challenging and serious incidents.

The aim of this unit is to support students in developing advanced knowledge, understanding and skills in mental health and basic counselling skills.

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 - Describe the latest developments in the area of child and adolescent mental health (GA1, GA2; APST1.1, 1.3 (HA &/or Lead)

LO2 - Develop protocols for their schools for the identification, referral and support of students with mental health issues. (GA1, GA3, GA7; APST1.6 (HA &/or Lead)

LO3 - Communicate and collaborate effectively with other professionals and agencies to support children and adolescents with mental health issues (GA1, GA7; APST 7.1, 7.4 (HA &/or Lead)

LO4 - Create a plan to positively support students and staff with mental health issues within a “Response to intervention” model. (GA1, GA3, GA7; APST 1.6, 3.6, 4.1, 4.3, 4.4, 7.1 (HA &/or Lead)

LO5 - Lead their schools in the development of strategies to manage child protection, grief and trauma and critical incidents (GA2, GA3, GA7; APST 3.7, 6.3, 7.1, 7.3, 7.4 (HA &/or Lead).

Graduate attributes

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

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.1     Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students (Highly Accomplished)

1.3     Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds (Highly Accomplished)

1.6     Strategies to support full participation of students with disability (Highly Accomplished)

3.6     Evaluate and improve teaching programs (Lead)

3.7     Engage parents/carers in the educative process (Lead)

4.1     Support student participation (Lead)

4.3     Managing challenging behaviour (Highly Accomplished)

4.4     Maintain student safety (Highly Accomplished)

6.3     Engage with colleagues and improve practice (Lead)

7.1     Meet professional ethics and responsibilities (Lead)

7.3     Engage with the parents/carers (Highly Accomplished)

7.4     Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities (Highly Accomplished)


Topics will include:

  • Basic counselling skills
  • Issues of mental health for children and adolescents
  • Differential diagnoses and comorbidity
  • Agencies, health and allied health professionals 
  • Referral processes
  • Collaboration skills
  • Child protection
  • Responses to grief and trauma
  • Critical incidents

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode and will be supported by a unit LEO (learning environment online) site. 

Engagement for learning is the key driver in the delivery of this curriculum. The unit will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and incorporate:

  • Use of a core set of digital resources (including modules; readings; suggested websites & other electronic resources) to support learning and assessment;
  • Using online tools to build a community of learners (e.g. forum; chat; podcasts; WIKI);
  • Engage in reflective practice supported by the study of scholarly literature;
  • Critically analyse and apply learning to educational case studies for the purposes of assessment.
  • Classes may be face to face intensives and/or online

This is a 10 credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks. The assessment strategy used allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill related to mental health and basic counselling skills. 

The first task (40%) requires students to write an essay on the issues of child and adolescent mental health with a particular emphasis on the impact on school engagement. The second task (60%) requires students to respond to five case studies for which they identify key issues and develop personal and whole school responses.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Write an essay on issues of child and adolescent mental health with a particular emphasis on the impact on school engagement.


LO1, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA7

Assessment Task 2

Students are given 5 case studies for which they identify the key issues and develop personal and whole school responses. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA7

Representative texts and references

Dogra, N., et. al. (2009) Multidisciplinary handbook of child and adolescent mental health for front-line professionals (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Egan, G. (2014). The skilled helper: A problem-management and opportunity-development approach to helping (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.

Kostelnik, M.J., Gregory, K.M., Soderman, A.K., & Whiren, A. P. (2012). Guiding children’s social development and learning (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Lines, D. (2011) Brief counselling in schools: Working with young people from 11 to 18 (3rd ed.).Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications

Merrell, K.W., Ervin, R.A., & Peacock, G.G. (2012). School psychology for the 21st Century: Foundations and Practices (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press. 

Woolfolk, A., & Margetts, K. (2013). Educational psychology (3rd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.

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