University of Technology Sydney

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 2021 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 about mental health nursing care. As this is a foundational mental health clinical subject, students will be introduced to various mental health issues and diagnoses. Students will also learn about the mental status examination, which is a rudimentary mental health nursing skill. Students will begin to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills required for mental health nursing, therapeutic communication and reflective practice. The content of this subject is updated regularly, and evidence based sources are used in the formation of tutorial content. Relevant to the Australian context, statistical information is primarily sought from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The development of critical thinking and respect for evidence are of primary focus in this subject.

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 issues.

Academic writing
Demonstrating information literacy and technology skills, students search and synthesise the professional literature to answer an essay question. Students are to undertake the essay with due effort and organisation, whilst complying with academic writing conventions.

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.

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.

Each 6-unit subject requires at least 140 hours of work (including face-to-face and self-directed learning activities) to successfully complete academic requirements.

Content (topics)

Content in this subject is broad. Students will be introduced to foundational concepts in mental healthcare, as well as its history and philosophy. The mental health issues that are of focus are the major mental health issues that impact Australians: anxiety disorders, mood disorders, suicide and self-harm, and substance use disorders. This subject has a heavy focus on the mental status examination, and many opportunities for practise are provided. In providing a holisitc education, students will also learn about:

  • Various contexts of care, such as the inpatient and outpatient setting;
  • Attitudes and beliefs about mental health and illness, and the effects of stigma for people with mental health problems and their families;
  • Epidemiology of mental health issues;
  • 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 medications;
  • Interpersonal skills;
  • Therapeutic use of self and the therapeutic relationship;
  • 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;
  • Dual diagnosis and comorbidities;
  • Clinical communication and documentation;
  • Drug and alcohol withdrawal;
  • Confidentiality, beneficence, non-maleficence, dignity and respect in mental healthcare.


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 will assist students in their preparation for the final exam in this subject. A high score indicates your understanding of the relevant concepts, however a low score indicates that you may need to revisit pre-reading, lecture and tutorial resources and revise. You may also seek further assistance from your tutor or subject coordinator.


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: Mandatory task that does not contribute to subject mark

40 Mins


?The quiz consists of 20 multiple choice questions. The 20 questions are from a larger randomised pool of questions.

Assessment task 2: 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: 25%

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 3: Essay on the DSM- Written Task


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has a lengthy and controversial history. From the first edition published in 1952, to the most recent edition in 2013 (DSM-5), the DSM has been heavily criticised by various stakeholders. Understanding the historical and contemporary controversies of the DSM will prepare you to practice in a way considerate of the ethical and moral issues that will confront you during your caring career.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C and D

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

1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Type: Essay
Weight: 30%

1200 words. The reference list is not included in the word count.


Please see the rubric provided on UTS Online.

Assessment task 4: Computer Based Exam


The final exam is designed to assess students' overall learning throughout the session.


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: 45%

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

Type: Laboratory/practical
Weight: Mandatory task that does not contribute to subject mark

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 ( and UTSOnline at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. 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.