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EDMH612 Teacher and Educator Mental Health: National and International Perspectives

Unit rationale, description and aim

There are a limited number of academic accounts from teachers and educators living with and managing adverse experiences while engaged in teaching practice. Consequently, there is insufficient opportunity for teachers and educators to discover how others in similar circumstances understood their experiences and navigated ways through them. EDMH613 takes an interdisciplinary approach to offer ethical and cognitive perspectives to autoethnography as a research method in which the lived experience of teachers’ and educators' mental health is analysed in the context of human dignity. EDMH613 introduces participants to the theoretical foundations of the methodology, as well as a range of auto-biographical, narrative approaches and ethical issues. It is developed for participants to learn about and engage with the ways autoethnography can critique and illuminate the relationship between self, identity, psychopathology and the sociocultural context. Further, the practice of reflective, autoethnographic writing demonstrates the intersection of teaching practice, education settings and mental health.

Through stepped progression opportunities, participants experiment with writing in different styles to develop their own voice and preferred theoretical or analytical frame to critique a specific professional circumstance and develop insights to navigate an understanding of the comprehensive influences that impact a participant’s professional environment. It is especially relevant for participants who may be seeking to extend their knowledge and understandings from the Graduate Certificate in Mental Health for Teachers and Educators into further theses or dissertation research. The unit aims to equip participants with knowledge and skills to research broadly, use ethical principles, select key concepts and to write confidently about their experiences and insights using interdisciplinary material.

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 - Demonstrate how different approaches to autoethnography relate to different ways of knowing and being mentally healthy in the world (the ontological and epistemological position) (GA1, GA3, GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 6.2, 6.3, 7.4)

LO2 - Critically engage with autoethnography to analyse a teacher’s and educator's lived experience with the interplay between self, teacher identity and the social-cultural context, to draw conclusions about their own and colleagues’ mental health care (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5; APST 6.2, 6.3, 7.1, 7.4)

LO3 - From an autoethnographic approach, analyse the benefits of a consumer-led, teaching-focused plan that is supported by researched scholarly material. (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9; APST 6.2, 6.3, 7.1, 7.4)

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 


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:

  • Introduction to narrative, autobiography and autoethnography
  • Autobiographical studies and subjective experiences
  • Communication skills and self-talk
  • Narrative as a tool for understanding the Self
  • Autoethnography: theory and practice
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy and autoethnographic practice
  • Revisiting Self, teacher and educator identity and subjective experience
  • Ethics and sensitive issues
  • Autoethnographic case studies
  • Creating, drafting and writing an autoethnography

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

To successfully complete this unit, postgraduate students need to complete and submit four graded assessment tasks. The assessment tasks are cumulative in their requirements and designed for teachers to articulate specific aspects of their lived experience that have protected and promoted their mental health, inclusive of collegial support. There are three 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 tasks in this unit are designed to build on participants’ knowledge and skills acquired in EDMH610, EDMH611 and EDMH612. The thread that runs through each of the assessment tasks is the identification that each individual’s idiosyncratic ways of making sense of, navigating through and managing adverse mental ill-health experiences may be beneficial for others to know. The use of autoethnographic research further legitimises the individual accounts for the experiences are presented as pieces of critically analysed research. The assessments are designed to build on and enrich participants’ understanding of autoethnographic methodology by focussing on reflective, first-person, classroom or school-based lived experience accounts. The three assessments are designed for participants to demonstrate their understanding and insights of autoethnographic rigour through critical analysis and a demonstration of overt links to social-cultural theories and mental-health concepts. The assessment strategy offers a progressive development from knowledge to practice so that participants can respond to their individual situations.  

In this assessment structure, participants will demonstrate achievement for each of the learning outcomes. The first assessment task requires participants to select one professional life incident and analyse it in terms of graphic or diary-style autoethnographic methods. The second assessment task is designed to build participants’ confidence, comfortability and familiarity with writing in an academic frame, about their experiences and requires participants to select one professional life incident and analyse it in terms of graphic or diary-style autoethnographic methods. The purpose of Assessment Task 2 is for participants to use their understanding of their immediate and holistic psychological and socio-cultural context in terms of experience and uncover beneficial strategies useful for themselves and others during unsettling circumstances. The tasks require participants to frame their understanding and learning in terms of the common good by identifying the social and professional collegial factors that were and are used to manage an adverse circumstance, as well as a critique of available resources. Assessments 3 requires more complex levels of reflection, introspection and synthesis so participants can demonstrate their comprehensive understanding of theory and practice in specific relationship to teacher’s mental health.

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 all 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 Task1: Memoir style essay

Using a narrative, graphic diary or memoir-style approach, and using lived experience examples, assess the benefits of collegial support. 


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 2: Essay

Using scholarly literature apply autoethnographic characteristics and techniques to firstly, analyse and critique an account of a significant professional life situation.  


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 3: An autoethnographic essay

Using autoethnography create a future-oriented whole-of-school mental health care plan that is justified by relevant research.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Australian Government: Department of Health (2021). What we're doing about mental health. Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Australian Government: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Mental Health Services in Australia. Mental Health Services.

Campbell, E. (2018). Reconstructing my identity: an autoethnographic exploration of depression and anxiety in academia. Journal of Organizational Ethnography. 7 (3), 235-246.

Edwards, J. (2017). Narrating experiences of sexism in higher education: a critical feminist autoethnography to make meaning of the past, challenge the status quo and consider the future. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 30 (7): 621-634.

Lu, J. (2021). Using autoethnographic reflections to heal: Walking out of depression, anxiety and stress. Revista Argentina de Clínica Psicológica. 30 (1): 898-907.

Phillips, D., & Lindsay, E. (2017). Using diary writing: a narrative of radical courage. TEXT Special Issue, 38:(April): 1-14. 

Walters, S., & Anderson, A.B. (2021). Teaching while traumatized: An autoethnographic account of teaching, triggers, and the higher education classroom,” Teaching in Higher Education. 1-15. 

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