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EDMH610 Teacher and Educator Mental Health: Roles, Responsibility and Identity

Unit rationale, description and aim

Contemporary research into mental health and well-being suggests that a collaborative, team-based, community approach appropriate to the individual’s holistic environment and specific needs offers preventative, protective, and supportive factors. Best practice in both teaching and mental health provision requires that practitioners understand not only the need for, but to develop and expand established relationships and social networks to create a team approach inclusive of themselves, their colleagues and their family.

The unit begins with a focus on the individual in relationship to their community, emphasising the advantages of shared, community-based responsibility to oneself in relationship with others. The unit relies on collegial, collaborative, learning pedagogy for participants to narratively demonstrate an application of skills and knowledge in both a personal and an education context. This approach considers the demographic, geographic and sociocultural factors that impact resource availability. Participants will examine the impact of health care service availability for themselves and their community, which will inform their repertoire of possible, evidence-based mental health care strategies. Attention is drawn to supportive family and neighbourhood community relationships and emphasis given to how knowledge of family roles plays out in the professional environment and can be used to build workplace-oriented conflict resolution and negotiation skills. Participants will examine the teachers’ and educators' Code of Conduct and associated national and state policies to determine which policy statements should inform their repertoire of possible, evidence-based, collegial strategies.

The aim of this unit is for participants to critically evaluate the inter-relationship between available community resources, family, sociocultural factors, workplace colleagues, and professional teacher roles and how these can impact mental health circumstances. 

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 - Identify and describe the psycho-social factors that surround teachers’ and educators' environments and communities (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 6.2, 6.3, 7.1, 7.4)

LO2 - Critically examine community-based, mental health agency and services available to teachers and educators and how access is related to sociocultural, educational equity issues (GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8; APST 6.2, 6.3, 7.1, 7.4)

LO3 - Evaluate the support offered by teachers’ professional communities, local community services and families and analyse how these contribute towards effective care for a teacher and educator experiencing mental ill-health (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA7, GA8; APST 6.2, 6.3, 7.1, 7.4)

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

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively 

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

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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


On successful completion of this unit, post-graduate students involved in the education sector should have the ability to:

6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice: Participate in learning to update knowledge and practice, targeted to professional needs and school and/or system priorities.

6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice: Contribute to collegial discussions and apply constructive feedback from colleagues to improve professional knowledge and practice.

7.1 Meet professional ethics and responsibilities: Meet codes of ethics and conduct established by regulatory authorities, systems and schools.

7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities: Participate in professional and community networks and forums to broaden knowledge and improve practice


Topics will include:

  • What are and where are community therapies and programs
  • Social inequalities and health care: why can’t I get the services I need
  • The impact of workplace bullying: overt and covert strategies. Exploring a whole school approach to challenge, prevent bullying practices
  • Examining the sociocultural contexts, attitudes and behaviours that marginalize individuals and communities experiencing mental ill-health.
  • Vulnerable community and mental health: The elderly. What services are available in caring for parents caring for the ageing self
  • Vulnerable and marginalised communities and mental health: exploring the role of teachers and educators invulnerable communities (refugee, juvenile justice, First Nationals, LGTBQl) and impact on mental health
  • Personality types, emotional intelligences and conflict resolution
  • Family systems theory and family dysfunctionality. The impact of mental ill-health on relationships
  • Domestic violence and support services
  • Addressing the stigma and silence of not coping. The role of family and colleagues
  • Community expectations: a brief historical examination of how teacher and educator roles have changed in Australia
  • Teaching as a profession, code of conduct and professional boundaries.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is designed to be offered fully online and uses an active learning approach to support participants as they explore essential discipline content. Participants are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Participants are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions and engage in active learning opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage participants to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Participants receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

The delivery mode seeks to capitalise on the maturity and capability of the participants within which a community of scholars can be developed. The unit’s content and tasks provide a holistic context for participants to frame their understanding of their own, and others’ situations which will assist in identifying how individual psycho-social factors and a sense of agency contribute to positive mental health. It is structured so both content and academic skills build upon each other, to develop a competent and confident application of knowledge and skills in the assessment tasks. The unit is structured as a progressive, constructive, developmental braid that supports participants’ learning through a sequence of learning stages. In each stage, the learning and teaching support provided are different but complementary. The approach to teaching and delivery is selected and sequenced to reflect inquiry-based pedagogy.

 The online sessions will include lecture material and self-paced activities such as guided readings, annotated reflections, e-Module activities and optional peer collaborative tasks and optional tutorial group activities. To strengthen peer collaboration, some self-paced activities prompt collegial exchanges through online discussion forums, chat rooms, and webinars. In addition, learning e-modules and links to electronic readings will be provided through ACU’s Online Campus learning platform to extend participants’ reading and to enrich their online learning. Lecture material will pose critical questions for research and discussion. This is useful to build up an understanding of the links between theories and concepts so participants can explore assessment task-related activities, either independently or collegially.

 Learning and teaching strategies include reviews of designated resource material, self-paced writing activities, plus group and individual discussions. The aim is to design a reflective and reflexive unit of work whereby the participants engage academically and effectively with the material, and with each other, to allow them to consider the relevance of their mental health in relation to their teaching practice. The online delivery mode seeks to optimise digital teaching strategies and platforms to retain participant engagement. Because of the sensitive nature of the topics, the lecturer-in-charge will create weekly, regular student consultations for discussion and conversations as a duty-of-care matter.

 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. To achieve a Pass grade in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities, assessments and class tasks that are grassroots material for the assessment tasks offered in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks are cumulative in their requirements, demonstrating how and why collegial support networks can reduce, prevent, promote and protect teachers’ mental health. There are four assessment tasks in this and in each of the units. They are designed as bite-size, achievable and palatable tasks to encourage teacher participants, who have time pressures to favourably consider each of the tasks. This will reassure the participants that each of the units can be successfully completed. 

 The assessment strategy is designed for participants to acquire knowledge about how personality types influence the negotiations they make with themselves, their families, and their colleagues. In addition, the tasks seek to demonstrate the role of specific community-based services and of the teaching code of conduct as ways to address personal circumstances. To successfully complete this unit, participants need to complete and submit four graded assessment tasks.

The first assessment task is an identification of available mental health resources in the participant’s locality to encourage participants to consider how collaborative social and professional networks, agencies and services are significant resources available to teachers during times of mental ill-health. The second assessment task is an analysis of literature to develop an understanding of the inter-relationship of sociocultural factors, vulnerable communities and adverse incidents, and how these play out within the context of social and collegial networks. Participants will identify specific circumstances and demographics, and with scholarly literature examine the factors that develop robust social networks in workplace communities. The third assessment task is an analysis of how Bowen’s family Systems Theory can be used to understand how participants have and can negotiate responsibilities within the context of their immediate collegial and professional communities. This task will prompt a personal exploration of relational roles, inclusive of professional relationships to enable the participants to consider which roles and relationships strengthen and/or need to be strengthened during adverse, mental-health circumstances. 

Minimum Achievement Standard

The three assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate the achievement of each learning outcome. To pass this unit participants are required to complete four assessment tasks and gain an overall Pass result, being equivalent to 50% or more.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Writing Task Map Essay

Create an annotated map of the local area/region that identifies and assesses available local/regional mental health agencies and services suitable for teachers’ and educators' mental health and well-being, and for their families.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Writing Task Report

Analyse the sociocultural factors that impact the mental health of vulnerable communities, individuals and families. Identify strategies using Bowen’s Family Systems Theory that can improve the mental health of one vulnerable community.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Assessment Task 3: Writing Task Essay

Using knowledge of Bowen’s Family Systems theory and psycho-social and sociocultural factors that impact mental health, firstly, examine how familial relationships can be impacted by adverse work conditions and then, analyse how teachers’ and educators' personal and professional communities can contribute towards holistic support and strengthening of teachers’ mental health.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Representative texts and references

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, Professional Learning Communities, AITSL.

Gampel, D. and Ferreira, L.P. (2017).  How Do Adolescent Students Perceive Aging Teachers' Voices?”, Journal of Voice, 31 (4):512e10-512e16.

Jerusalem, M., & Hessling, J.K. (2009). Mental health promotion in schools by strengthening self-efficacy, Health Education.109 (4): 329-341.

Kanowski, L.G., Jorm, A.F. & Hart, L.M. (2009). A mental health first aid training program for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: description and initial evaluation,” International Journal of Mental Health Systems. 3 (10): 1-9.

Kirmayer, L. J. and Valaskakis, G.G., Healing Traditions: The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, 2009. Vancouver, The University of British Colombia.

Santoro, D. A. (2018). Demoralized: Why teachers leave the profession they love and how they can stay, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Voelkel, R.H., & Chrispeels, J.H. (2017). Understanding the link between professional learning communities and teacher collective efficacy,” School effectiveness and School Improvement. 28 (4): 505-526. 

Waldram, J.B. (2004). Revenge of the Windigo: The construction of the mind and mental health of North American Aboriginal peoples. Toronto,ON: University of Toronto Press.

Wyn, J., Cahill, H., Holdsworth, R., Rowling, L., & Carson, S. (2000). Mind Matters, a whole-school approach promoting mental health and wellbeing. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 34:594–601. 

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