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92025 Fundamentals of Mental Health Nursing (Enrolled Nurse Entry 1)

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks


Students explore a range of issues related to the promotion of health and the nursing care of people in need of mental health care, the impact for their families and carers, and the importance of mental health nursing in all health care settings including inpatient and community-based services. The knowledge, attitudes and skills required for contemporary mental health nursing practice – such as interpersonal skills to build and maintain therapeutic relationships, assessment processes, therapeutic interventions, development of partnerships with consumers in their recovery, inter-professional collaboration and reflective practice – are explored. Mental health nursing practice that places the consumer at the centre of all mental health services is a key feature of this subject.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Reflect on how personal and societal attitudes, beliefs and values impact on people who experience mental health problems (NMBA 5)
B. Demonstrate an understanding of the local and global history of mental health care (NMBA 3)
C. Incorporate the promotion of strengths, wellness and health when caring for people with mental health problems (NMBA 6)
D. Develop nursing care informed by psychological, medical and socio-cultural theories of mental health problems (NMBA 6)
E. Understand the dimensions of a mental health-illness continuum for individuals, families and the community (NMBA 1)
F. Develop the therapeutic use of self through reflective practice (NMBA 1)
G. Develop relationships with consumers and carers that support recovery (NMBA 3)
H. Apply relevant assessment tools, therapies and approaches in contemporary mental health care (NMBA 6)
I. Demonstrate beginning competencies in mental health nursing practice through participation in the delivery of care (NMBA 6)
J. Examine the significance of legislation that impacts on mental health care (NMBA 1)
K. Examine how the structure and organisation of mental health services operate to provide a comprehensive system of care (NMBA 6)
L. Access and use available evidence to inform mental health nursing practice (NMBA 3)
M. Collaborate with consumers, carers and other members of the health care team in the delivery of mental health care (NMBA 9)
N. Develop and demonstrate nursing knowledge through reading, questioning and synthesising relevant professional and scholarly evidence, including government legislation and policies and apply such evidence to nursing practice, writing in a style appropriate to purpose and context (NMBA 4)

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Embody a professional disposition committed to excellence, equity and sustainability (1.0)
  • Engage in person-centred care that is appropriately sensitive to the needs of individuals, families and communities (2.0)
  • Communicate and collaborate effectively and respectfully with diverse groups (3.0)
  • Inquire critically to assess a body of evidence to inform practice (4.0)
  • Competently apply knowledge and skills to ensure safe and effective nursing practice (5.0)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

This subject will extend students' ability to search for and use evidence. Students will be introduced to new databases and refine their skills in searching for and evaluating the worthiness of scholarly and professional resources. Students will learn to synthesise key ideas from the literature and to apply that literature to a nursing context in their assignments. Students will write in ways that are appropriate for different purposes, for example using blogs as a self reflective technique and will read and produce a range of texts for professional and scholarly purposes. Students will develop therapeutic communication skills for mental health nursing practice.

Activity sets/key skills addressed in this subject

Clinical Assessment and Monitoring:
Mental status assessment
Psychosocial assessment

Privacy and Dignity:
Respectful care
Cultural and transcultural care

Promoting Self Management
Discharge planning
Health education and health promotion

Clinical Interventions and Management:
Mental health: therapeutic use of self

Clinical Communication and Documentation
Clinical handover
Care planning
Reporting care
Using and maintaining patient records
Multidisciplinary communication
Negotiating care with Patient/client and families
Discharge planning

Medications, Intravenous Therapy and Blood Products
Promoting self management of medications

Risk and Safety:
Risk assessment
Responding to consumers with challenging behaviours

Teaching and learning strategies

In this subject, you will participate in a range of teaching and learning strategies that are designed to encourage you to engage with nursing care of people who experience mental health issues.

Academic Writing
Demonstrating information literacy and technology skills, students search and synthesise the professional literature to focus on a current mental health topic. Students comply with academic writing practices and use information ethically, legally and respectfully.

Lectures and online learning materials
Students are expected to engage with real time delivery of content (lectures) and online resources including podcasts, videos and learning modules. Face-to-face lectures enable students to quickly clarify complex descriptions and terminology, and engage with sensitive or confronting topics. Online materials include scenario-based learning software, problem-based progressive case studies these unfold at the student's pace and instant feedback is provided to develop students' judgement. Students will also view a consumer assessment and bring their written mental state assessment to class for peer review. The online material is preparation for the tutorials and will inform class discussions and activities.

Case Scenarios
Cases are used to help students explore health related scenarios. Cases depict consumers and their families in clinical or community situations. Students will work in small groups and use these scenarios to learn concepts, interpret information, form clinical judgements and develop creative solutions. Critical thinking is developed through analysis, interpretation of and reflection on issues or situations.

Simulated in class role-plays
Role-plays provided a simulated environment for students to practice new skills learnt through theory and knowledge development. Peers, actors, and/or consumers may be used to assist students to explore the holism of practice in a safe environment. Scenarios from relevant situations are used to depict real life experiences in nursing practice, such as the therapeutic communication used in mental health assessment. Students interact, observe and provide feedback within the facilitated debriefing, and reflect on their own skills, values and experiences. Students will receive feedback from their peers and the tutor on these developing skills.

Clinical placement
In this subject students complete 80 hours of clinical placement experience. Placements are provided in a range of clinical contexts including mental health services (both inpatient and community), primary health care services, community centres, non-government organisations and in metropolitan and rural locations. Students provide mental health nursing care within interprofessional teams to develop and consolidate their knowledge, skills and attributes relevant to mental health nursing.

Content (topics)

  • Mental health-illness continuum and mental health promotion
  • Mental health-illness continuum across the range of contexts of care
  • Attitudes and beliefs about mental health and illness
  • Effects of stigma for people with mental health problems and their families
  • Epidemiology, socio-cultural and psycho-social aspects of mental health problems
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples mental health and wellbeing
  • History of mental health care and mental health service provision in Australia
  • Aetiology of mental health problems
  • Contemporary mental health nursing practice and inter-professional collaboration
  • Interpersonal skills, cultural awareness and therapeutic use of self and the therapeutic relationship
  • Assessment of mental state and mental health problems, and therapeutic approaches to mental health problems
  • Relationship between mental health and physical health across care settings
  • Collaborative relationships with consumers and families in the recovery process
  • Legislation and its impact on the delivery of mental health care


Assessment task 1: In class Mental State Examination


When students are out on their clinical they are expected to conduct MSE’s each shift and document these either in the consumer clinical files or for their facilitator to review. This assignment will enable students to practice undertaking good assessment, receive feedback on this activity and further develop their skills as identified in the feedback.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, C, E, G, L and N

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

2.0 and 4.0

Weight: 10%

250 - 500 words

  • Accuracy of observations made when applying relevant assessment tool in a care scenario (5 marks)
  • Clarity and comprehensiveness of documentation when communicating observations in a written form (5 marks)

Assessment task 2: Essay


By examining stories of the lived experience of mental health consumers and their families/carers students reflect on the impact of personal and societal attitudes, beliefs and values. This written reflection essay assists students to broaden, and perhaps challenge, their own understandings of the experience for mental health consumers, and to identify their role in reducing stigma.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

B, C, D, E, H and K

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

2.0 and 4.0

Weight: 40%

1500 words

  • Introduces the topic, outlines the purpose of the essay, defines key terms, and demonstrates an understanding of stigma as it relates to people with mental health problems (10 marks)
  • Utilises consumer experiences provided and finds other consumer accounts of stigma from research literature, texts, Australian mental health policies and reports and documentary film. Describes the effects of negative stigma using a range of references. Discusses how the impacts of stigma could shape your approach to supporting consumers with mental health issues in a range of healthcare settings. (20 marks)
  • Summarises the main findings and concludes the essay concisely; ideas clearly expressed and well organised; demonstrates correct use of the Harvard (UTS) reference style, including in-text referencing and preparation of the reference list (10 marks).

Assessment task 3: Case Study Exam


The final exam is designed to assist students to apply knowledge and concepts learnt throughout the semester to contemporary case scenarios related to experiences students may encounter in their clinical placement.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, L, M and N

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Weight: 50%

Assessment task 4: Clinical Assessment

Weight: Mandatory task that does not contribute to subject mark

Required texts

Elder, R., Evans, K. & Nizette, D. (eds.) 2012, Psychiatric and mental health nursing, 3rd edn, Elsevier-Mosby, Sydney.

Students are advised to acquire their own copy of this text. Copies of the text are available at the UTS library and the Coop Bookshop. The required weekly readings for this subject are from this text and will be advised on UTSOnline prior to the lectures.

NB: It is essential that students complete all required readings. The required readings will be considered assumed knowledge for tutorial classes and the examination.

Note that the text is also the required text for third year studies in mental health nursing.

Recommended texts

Muir-Cochrane, E., Barkway, P. & Nizette, D. 2014, Mosby's pocketbook of mental health, 2nd edn, Elsevier, Sydney.

Usher, K., Foster, K. & Bullock, S. 2009, Psychopharmacology for health professionals, Elsevier, Sydney.


Anglicare. 2009, Experts by experience: Strengthening the mental health consumer voice in Tasmania, Anglicare Tasmania, Hobart.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2007, National survey of mental health and wellbeing: Summary of results. ABS Cat No. 4326.0. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council. 2013, A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services: Policy and theory, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council. 2013, A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services: Guide for practitioners and providers, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2013, Mental health services in brief 2013, Cat. no. HSE 141, AIHW, Canberra.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council. 2006, ANMC competency standards for the registered nurse, 4th edn, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, Canberra.

Barker, P., Campbell, P. & Davidson, B. (eds.) 1999, From the ashes of experience: Reflections on madness, survival and growth, Whurr, London.

Barker, P. (ed.) 2009, Psychiatric and mental health nursing:The craft of caring, 2nd edn, Hodder Arnold, London.

Bousfield, R. 2009, Journey of a mind: An autobiographical account, Little Red Apple, Haymarket.

Brown, R. 1993, The second son of God: The autobiography of an inventor with schizophrenia, Ray Brown, Glebe.

Centre for Aboriginal Health. 2012, NSW Aboriginal Health Plan 2013-2023, NSW Ministry of Health, Sydney.

Corrigan, W. (ed.) 2005, On the stigma of mental illness: Practical strategies for research and social change, American Psychological Association, Washington.

Department of Health and Ageing. 2002, National practice standards for the mental health workforce, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Department of Health and Ageing. 2009, National mental health policy, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Department of Health and Ageing. 2009, Fourth national mental health plan, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Department of Health and Ageing. 2010, National standards for mental health services, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Department of Health and Ageing. 2010, National mental health report 2010: Summary of 15 years of reform in Australia's mental health services under the National Mental Health Strategy 1993-2008, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Department of Health and Ageing. 2012, Draft Ten year roadmap for national mental health reform, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Deveson, A. 1991, Tell me I'm here, Penguin Books, Ringwood.

Hamilton, C. & Jameson, N. 2004, Broken open, Bantam, Milson's Point.

Happell, B., Cowin, L., Roper, C., Lakeman, R. & Cox, L. 2013, Introducing mental health nursing: A service user-oriented approach, 2nd edn Allen & Unwin, Sydney

Hinshaw, S. 2007, The mark of shame, stigma of mental illness and an agenda for change, Oxford University Press, New York.

Hungerford, C., Hodgson, D., Clancy, R., Monisse-Redman, M., Bostwick, R. & Jones, T. 2015, Mental health care: An introduction for health professionals in Australia, Wiley, Milton

Kitchener, B., Jorm, A. & Kelly. C. 2013, Mental health first aid manual, 3rd edn, MHFA, Melbourne.

Jeffs, S. 2009, Flying with paper wings, Vulgar Press, Carlton North.

Meadows, G., Farhall, J., Fossey, E.,Grigg, M., McDermott, F. & Singh, B. 2012, Mental health in Australia: Collaborative community practice, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Mental Health Council of Australia. 2005, Not for service: Experiences of injustice and despair in mental health care in Australia, Mental Health Council of Australia, Canberra.

Mental Health Council of Australia. 2010, Mental health carers report, Mental Health Council of Australia, Canberra.

National Mental Health Commission. 2012, A contributing life: The 2012 national report card on mental health and suicude prevention, NMHC, Sydney.

National Mental Health Commission. 2013, A contributing life: The 2013 national report card on mental health and suicude prevention, NMHC, Sydney.

NSW Department of Health. 2007, Aboriginal mental health and wellbeing policy 2006 - 2010, NSW Department of Health, North Sydney.

NSW Department of Health. 2009, NSW clinical guidelines for the care of persons with comorbid mental illness and substance use disorders in acute care settings, NSW Department of Health, North Sydney.

Perry, Y., Varlow, M., Dedousis-Wallace,A., Murrihy, R., Ellis, D. & Kidman, A. 2012, Moving forward: Introduction to psychosis. A reference manual for health professionals, Foundation for Life Sciences, St Leonards.

Peterson, D. & Gordon, S. (eds.) 2009, Stepping out of the shadows: Insights into self-stigma and madness, Case, Wellington.

SANE Australia. 2013, A life without stigma: A SANE Report, SANE Australia, Melbourne

Stein-Parbury, J. 2013, Patient and person: Interpersonal skills in nursing, 5th edn, Elsevier Churchill Livingstone, Sydney.

Wesley Mission. 2007, Living with mental illness: Attitudes, experiences and challenges, Wesley Mission, Sydney.

Wesley Mission. 2010, Keeping minds well: Mental health is everybody's business, Wesley Mission, Sydney.

Other resources

UTS Student Centres

Building 10
Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:
For other resources/information refer to the Faculty of Health website (, the Health Student Guide ( and UTSOnline at:

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at both City and Kuring-gai Libraries. Phone (02) 9514 9733

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.