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92457 Fundamentals of Mental Health Nursing

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

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


In this subject students learn concepts about mental health presentations and care generally and within the specialised context of mental health care settings, both acute and community-based. Students consider recovery as a context for mental health practice as they begin to explore different mental health issues and people who have experience of mental health challenges. As this is a foundational mental health clinical subject, students explore a range of skills in assessment such as mental state examination, risk assessment and attending to family and carers' needs. Students also begin to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills required for mental health nursing practice, therapeutic communication and reflective practice. This subject explores personal and professional resilience to better enable students to work effectively with complex presentations in mental health and generalist care settings.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Consider how personal and societal attitudes, cultural background, beliefs and values impact on the development of understandings of mental health and illness (RN Standards for Practice 1.2; 1.3).
B. Incorporate a strengths based focus when caring for people with mental health concerns (RN Standards for Practice 2.1; 2.3; 2.4; 2.5; 4.1; 4.3; 5.2).
C. Demonstrate nursing skills to enable therapeutic relationships with consumers and carers that support recovery (RN Standards for Practice 1.3; 2.1; 2.2; 2.3; 2.4; 2.5; 3.2; 3.7; 4.1; 4.3; 6.1).
D. Examine the significance of legislation that impacts on mental health care such as mental health act, guardianship and essentials of care principles (RN Standards for Practice 1.4; 1.5; 6.5).
E. Develop the therapeutic use of self and explore aspects of personal and professional resilience (RN Standards for Practice 1.2; 2.1; 2.2; 3.1; 3.5).
F. Utilise and administer assessment tools and documentation in mental health care (RN Standards for Practice 1.6; 4.1; 4.2; 4.3; 4.4; 5.1; 5.2; 5.3).
G. Demonstrate beginning competencies in mental health nursing practice through participation in the delivery of care (RN Standards for Practice 1.2; 1.4; 1.5; 3.1; 6.1; 6.2; 6.5; 7.1; 7.2).
H. Collaborate with consumers, carers and other members of the health care team in the delivery of mental health care (RN Standards for Practice 2.8; 3.7; 4.3; 5.2).

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)

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject engages students through the delivery of thought-provoking tutorials, and through apposite assessment. In this subject, students participate in a range of teaching and learning strategies that are designed to encourage engagement with nursing care of people who experience mental health concerns.

Academic writing
Demonstrating information literacy and technology skills, students search and synthesise the professional literature to answer an essay question. Students comply with academic writing practices and use information ethically, legally and respectfully.

Tutorials and online learning materials
In this subject, students benefit from both the real time delivery of content and access to online resources including podcasts, videos and learning modules. Face-to-face tutorials enable students to quickly clarify complex descriptions and terminology, and engage with sensitive or confronting topics. Full attendance and participation in scheduled teaching and learning sessions is a requirement to pass this subject. Students must inform the tutor if they are unable to attend a tutorial. If a student is absent he or she is required to catch up on the missed work; make-up work will not be sufficient if a significant number of classes are missed. Students must also engage in the pre-class activities in order to participate effectively in tutorials. Pre-class activities are clearly specified on UTS Online.

Case scenarios
Cases are used to help students explore health related scenarios. Cases depict patients/consumers and their families in clinical or community situations. Students 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.

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

Content (topics)

Content will include: 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; Aetiology of mental health problems; Mental health across the lifespan; Mental health nursing practice and integrated health; Inter-professional collaboration; Interpersonal skills, cultural awareness and therapeutic use of self and the therapeutic relationship; Assessment of mental state and understanding of mental health illness and disorder, physical illness and therapeutic approaches to mental health treatment; Collaborative relationships with consumers and families in the recovery process; Mental Health Act and legislation and its impact on the delivery of mental health care. This subject will involves content focused on:

Personal care:
Clinical communication and documentation:
Clinical handover
Care planning
Discharge planning
Using and maintaining patient records
Communicating clinical reasoning
Interprofessional communication
Negotiating care with patient/client and families
Discharge planning

Clinical assessment and monitoring:
Physical assessment
Drug & alcohol withdrawal
Mental status assessment
Psychosocial assessment

Medications, intravenous therapy and blood products:
Safe checking, administration, documentation and disposal of medications
Medication calculations
Oral medication administration
Other non-parenteral medications
Promoting self-management of medications

Privacy and dignity:
Respectful care
Cultural and transcultural care

Promoting self-management:
Discharge planning
Health education & health promotion

Risk and safety:
Hand hygiene
Infection control

Clinical interventions and management:
Mental health: therapeutic use of self


Assessment task 1: Interactive Online Quiz


This assessment will provide you with the opportunity to test and confirm your understanding of foundational concepts and knowledge pertaining to the subject. The quiz will assess you against material that has been covered in the subject up to the point of the assessment. Results of the quiz will provide you with insight into your overall understanding of subject materials. For this assessment you will need to watch the MSE located in the assessment folder, as some of the questions will be focused on the content of this video interview.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, C, D and F

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

1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Type: Quiz/test
Weight: 10%

60 Mins


?The quiz consists of 20 multiple choice questions, each worth 0.5 marks. The 20 questions are from a larger randomised pool of questions.

Assessment task 2: Relationships in Mental Health Nursing- Written Task


This is a written assignment that focuses on interpersonal relationships in nursing. Nurses from all specialties exercise this capacity throughout the course of healing. The therapeutic relationship in mental health nursing, also known as the therapeutic alliance, is an interpersonal, mutual and negotiated collaboration. Therapeutic relationships/therapeutic alliances are the cornerstone of mental health nursing. This written task will require you to demonstrate a theoretical understanding of therapeutic relationships/the therapeutic alliance in nursing. This is an individual assignment.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C and E

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

1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0

Type: Essay
Weight: 20%

1000 words


Criterion one (10%)
Discuss how mental health nurses establish a therapeutic relationship/therapeutic alliance with mental health consumers who have depression. Supports answer by referencing literature and evidence, and writes in manner consistent with academic conventions. In addressing this criterion, you may wish to discuss the ways that nurses interact with the people they care for, and the techniques that nurses employ to establish relationships.

Criterion two (10%)
Discuss why mental health nurses establish a therapeutic relationship/therapeutic alliance with mental health consumers who have depression. Supports answer by referencing literature and evidence, and writes in manner consistent with academic conventions. In addressing this criterion, you may wish to discuss the reasons why nurses develop a therapeutic relationship/alliance, and the outcomes associated with these relationships.

Assessment task 3: Mental Status Examination Test


Mental Status Examinations are an essential mental health nursing skill. Mental Status Examinations are the routine format for documentation of a consumer's mental state. This assessment is a test of your documentation and observational capacity.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

F and G

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

3.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Type: Quiz/test
Weight: 20%

1 hour


Documented observations must meet four criteria to be awarded marks. Observations must be valid, appropriately categorised, clear and aptly detailed, and cannot be a repetition of a previous observation.

Validity: The observation documented must be consistent with the viewed scenario. Observations that are false, or unsubstantiated will not be awarded marks.

Categorisation: The observation must be placed under the correct heading. Improperly categorised observsations will not be awarded marks.

Clarity and Detail: Observations must be written in full sentences, and suitably detailed. Unclear and under-detailed responses will not be awarded with marks.

Non-Repetition: Each correct observation will only obtain marks once. Subsequent repetitions will not be awarded marks.

Assessment task 4: Case Study Exam


The final exam is designed to assist students to apply knowledge and concepts learnt throughout the session 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 and F

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

1.0, 2.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Type: Examination
Weight: 50%

2 hours

Assessment task 5: Clinical placement


The clinical component of this subject will provide an opportunity for you to develop and demonstrate your practical mental health nursing skills. On placement, you will be expected to demonstrate your capacity to conduct an MSE. You will also be expected to display interpersonal skills in your therapeutic interactions with consumers, and you will be expected to develop your understanding of psychopharmacology.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H

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

1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10
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:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, old exam papers, academic writing guides, health literature databases, workshops, a gaming room and bookable group study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with all your questions.
W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666

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 the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733

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