Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Best practice in mental health care delivery must reflect a team approach that is holistic, culturally safe and recovery-oriented to assessment, care planning, implementation and evaluation. This is inclusive of the individual, their family / group and their community. This approach to care delivery supports the individual in their recovery journey and to achieve a fulfilling life as determined by the person themselves, within their already existent relationships and social networks.

The focus of the unit is on assessment of individual care needs, care planning and care implementation using a person-centred approach. Students will explore the how the therapeutic relationship forms the basis of a collaborative approach to assessment and care planning with individuals. This learning will be applied to their practice in working with the individual, their carers, families and other members of the multidisciplinary team.

The aim of this unit is to prepare students to provide culturally safe holistic recovery-oriented care for people experiencing a mental illness in a variety of clinical settings.

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 how a holistic person-centered approach to mental health nursing practice is integrated in a coordinated care model that protects the individual’s rights, respects diversity and promotes recovery (GA1, GA3);

LO2 - Explain how the therapeutic relationship is central to providing care that is respectful of the individual’s choice, experience and circumstances and is based on critical reflection/analysis with the individual ensuring their preferences and self-determination requirements (GA4, GA5);

LO3 - Utilize a range of communications skills to establish and maintain therapeutic relationships in order to undertake appropriate holistic assessments to deliver culturally safe, holistic, suitable evidence based therapeutic interventions for individuals requiring mental health care and support their families/carers, significant others and/or key people involved in their care (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8);

LO4 - Critically reflect on the impact of integrating a holistic person-centered approach to practice toward creating strategies that facilitate the individual’s personal recovery and contribute to the common good (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5).

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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


Topics will include:

Holistic Care

  • Theoretical Concepts
  • Paradigms of holistic practice

Holistic assessment and management

  • Common mental health alterations and disorders and related pathophysiology
  • Biopsychosocial assessment, intervention and evaluation
  • Psychopharmacology and individual preferences
  • Applying the principles of recovery to individual service plans (ISP) advanced directives, and wellness recovery action plans (WRAP)
  • Plan culturally safe care that takes account the unique preferences, choices and expectations of mental health care of the individual, their family/carers and significant others. 

Advanced therapeutic communication

  • Principles of therapeutic communication
  • Engagement
  • Counselling
  • Evidence informed therapies: which may be inclusive of Brief Individual and Family Therapy, DBT & CBT 

Communication skills for identifying and facilitating change in health behaviour

  • Motivational interviewing
  • Mindfulness

Evidence informed therapies: 

  • Brief Individual and Family Therapy,
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in online mode and it is expected that students will be engaged in employment where they have ongoing contact with people who require mental health care. This will enable students to apply, evaluate and critically reflect on their learning while in a supported clinical context.

The active learning approaches applied in this unit are flexible and inclusive, allowing students the opportunity to analyse and critically evaluate approaches to providing holistic recovery oriented care in mental health practice. Students will engage in readings and reflections, e-Module activities and opportunities to collaborate with peers in an online environment. This can involve, but is not limited to, on-line discussion forums, chat rooms, guided reading and webinars. In addition, learning e-modules and links to electronic readings will be provided on the learning environment online (LEO) so as to guide students’ reading and extend other aspects of online learning.

Through an online learning platform, students will have the opportunity to reflect on the complexity of applying recovery-oriented principles in their practice, explore and consider different types of appropriate holistic assessments and therapeutic interventions, theories of recovery and holism in mental health practice, concepts of collaboration and partnership that is inclusive of the individual, their family group and their community. In constructing knowledge about individual care needs, care planning and care implementation, students will evaluate different strategies that are both safe and conducive to quality recovery oriented mental health nursing care.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy used allows for the progressive development of knowledge and skills necessary for the student to be able to utilize a holistic person-centered and recovery-oriented approach in mental health nursing practice in a variety of clinical settings.

As postgraduate students who are already health practitioners, students will have varying experiences in assessment, care planning and implementing mental health nursing care. The assessment tasks have been designed to enable students to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes, successful completion of a portfolio demonstrating clinical competence in undertaking biopsychosocial assessments and implementing a range of therapeutic interventions within the mental health care field. The critical reflection will allow students to bring together their learning across the semester of study and show how they have developed their practice through reflecting on pivotal learning experiences.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Written assessment  

Provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the theories underpinning their clinical practice.


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7

Hurdle Assessment: Clinical Portfolio: Clinical Assessment Tool

Provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their learning regarding mental health care practice from a clinical perspective.


LO1, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Critical reflection 

This provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate knowledge and critical reflection of biopsychosocial assessments and a range of therapeutic interventions utilised in mental health care over the course of the semester.



GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5

Representative texts and references

Adams,M., & Koch, R. (2013). Pharmacology connections to nursing practice. (2nd ed) New Jersey: Pearson.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009). Measuring the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Cat. No. IHW24. Canberra

Coombs, T., Crookes, P., & Curtis, J. (2013). A comprehensive mental health nursing assessment: variability of content in practice. Journal Of Psychiatric And Mental Health Nursing, 20(2), 150-155.

Cox, L. & Taua, C. (2013). Socio-cultural considerations and nursing practice. In J. Crisp, C. Taylor, C. Douglas & G. Rebeiro (eds), Fundamentals of Nursing (4th edn). Sydney: Elsevier, pp. 320–340.

Foster, K., Marks, P., O'Brien. A. & Raeburn, T. (2020). Mental health in nursing, 5th ed. Elsevier 

Happell, B., Cowin, L., Roper, C., Lakeman, R. & Cox, L. (2013). Introducing mental health nursing: a service-user orientated approach. Crow’s Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Hercelinskjy, G. & Alexander, L. (2020). Mental health nursing: applying theory to practice. Cengage: Singapore.  

Jones, K., & Creedy, D. (2013). Health and human behaviour (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Leahy, R. (2012). (Ed). Treatment plans and interventions for depression and anxiety disorders (2nd ed). New York; London: Guilford Press

Meadows, G., Grigg, M., Farhall J., McDermott F., Fossey E., & Singh, B (2012). Mental Health in Australia. Collaborative Community Practice (3rd ed). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.  

Paris, J. (2013). The intelligent clinician’s guide to the DSM-V. New York: Oxford Press. Retrieved from:

Stein-Parbury, J. (2014). Patient and person: Interpersonal skills in nursing (5th ed.). Sydney: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

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