Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focussed learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

A knowledge of mental illness and the values and skills for practice is considered essential for human service practice across a wide range of health and welfare settings.

The unit provides students with the opportunity to explore and critically analyse practice, in the area of mental health. This unit will provide students with foundational knowledge of mental health practice and theory, in the context of consumer rights, multidisciplinary teams, and practice models.

The aim of this unit is to develop foundational knowledge and practice skills for practice in the area of mental health.

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 - Differentiate the roles and responsibilities of human service workers in mental health practice (GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Apply relevant assessment and intervention skills for mental health problems and the implications for professional practice with a range of populations (GA5);

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

LO4 - Interpret and apply research skills to explore the evidence base for assessment to develop appropriate evidence based intervention plans (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6);

LO5 - Relate selected theories to the development of policies, programs and services in mental health practice (GA5);

LO6 - Analyse ethical issues and reflect critically on ethical dilemmas in mental health practice (GA3).

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 


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

Assessments in Mental Health – Theory and Practice.

  • case management

Contemporary approaches to mental health care

  • early intervention
  • relapse prevention
  • rehabilitation
  • recovery

Working 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

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

Psychosocial 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 working with people with mental health issues in human service practice. Case-based learning will be utilised enabling students to better understand and explore

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 human service practice in mental health. Tutorials will provide students with opportunities to practice skills through case studies and role play.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The unit has three assessment pieces, designed to test 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 task asks students to demonstrate their capacity to gather and organise information into a standardized assessment framework. This tests 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.

The third assessment piece is an online case study. The case study involves students responding to a case study by conducting a psychosocial assessment and preparing an intervention plan in a set time period.

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, LO5

GA5, GA9

Assessment in Mental Health – enables student to apply their assessments skills. Students are required to write a psychosocial assessment using a standardized pro forma.


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4,

GA5, GA6

Online Case Study – Enables students to respond to a case study and formulate an assessment and case plan in a timely manner


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

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.). Commonwealth, 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