University of Technology Sydney

93227 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 2023 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 are introduced to various mental health issues and diagnoses. Students also learn about the mental status examination, which is a rudimentary mental health nursing skill. Students 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.

Content in this subject is broad. Students are 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.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Develop an understanding of the way that social, environmental and genetic factors influence an individual’s mental health
B. Understand the importance and implementation of nursing skills for the development of therapeutic relationships with consumers and carers
C. Utilisation and administration of assessment tools and documentation in mental health care
D. Demonstrate competencies in contemporary mental health nursing practice through participation in the delivery of care
E. Develop an understanding of the mental health issues that affect specific populations in the Australian context
F. Exercise critical faculties for navigating ethical complexity in theory and practice
G. Approach nursing practice with a sound knowledge of historical and contemporary developments in mental health philosophy and scholarship

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • The ability to plan and provide care that is respectful of each individuals’ needs, values and life experiences (1.0)
  • Demonstrates an ability to provide holistic and compassionate care that takes into account peoples’ lived experience, views and feelings. (1.1)
  • Works in partnership with patients including them in decisions related to their care. (1.2)
  • Advocates for people, if required, to ensure that their cultural values and needs are respected. (1.3)
  • The embodiment of a professional disposition committed to ethical, equitable and legal nursing practice (2.0)
  • Demonstrates a commitment to social justice, valuing diversity and seeking to address disadvantage and inequity in healthcare. (2.2)
  • Demonstrates leadership and the moral courage needed to improve patient outcomes, staff well-being and organisational cultures. (2.3)
  • The ability to communicate and collaborate safely, compassionately and respectfully. (3.0)
  • Works in partnership with healthcare providers and other stakeholders toward common goals that prioritise patients’ values, needs and preferences. (3.3)
  • Accesses, appraises and critiques multiple sources of evidence and transfers knowledge to practice. (4.2)
  • The intellectual capacity to use theoretical knowledge to address complex and non-routine clinical issues (6.0)
  • Critically reflects on and learns from previous experiences to improve future practice. (6.3)
  • The knowledge and skills required for safe and effective patient care (7.0)
  • Demonstrates technical and non-technical skills in the provision of safe effective, legal and ethical nursing care. (7.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

This subject contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:
Person-centred care
Evidence based practice
Critical thinking
Professional competence

Teaching and learning strategies

In this subject, you will participate in a range of teaching and learning strategies.

Lectures and online learning materials
This subject benefits from both the real time delivery of content and access to online resources including podcasts, videos and learning modules. Students are provided with the resources to complete approximately 60-90 minutes of preparatory work to enable engagement during face-to-face tutorials. Online lectures will enable students to quickly clarify complex descriptions and terminology, and engage with nursing leaders who are experts in their field.

Students will be supported and guided by a tutor and also work in pairs and groups to unpack the tutorial content using patient stories and clinical scenarios. In class content is structured to contribute to the required assessment tasks.

Students will be provided feedback from their tutor and peers with the opportunity to collaborate and develop interpersonal, communication and reflective skills.

Content (topics)

  • 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 challenges and their families;
  • 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 use and its relationship to mental health;
  • Confidentiality, beneficence, non-maleficence, dignity and respect in mental healthcare
  • Nurses' role as advocates and allies


Assessment task 1: Critque of media report


Students will critically assess a mainstream media report related to mental health care. Some examples will be provided, or students can source their own media report which has been published in the last 12 months.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, E and F

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

1.3, 2.2, 4.2 and 6.0

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

1500 words


Please see further assessment details in Canvas

Assessment task 2: Quiz


Students will use their understanding of the subject content to answer questions related to mental health and mental health nursing.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

E and G

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

1.0, 1.2, 3.3 and 6.3

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

45 mins


Questions will be based on classroom content, online activities and readings.

See Canvas for further details

Assessment task 3: Collaborative team assessment


Students will demonstrate their understanding of the content covered in this subject and their ability to apply this knowledge in relation to a video stimulus.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B and F

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

1.0, 1.1, 2.3, 3.0, 4.2 and 6.3

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 40%

2 hours in class


Please details in Canvas

Assessment task 4: Clinical practice assessment (clinical placement)


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

B, C, D and F

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

1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 2.0, 3.0, 7.0 and 7.1

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

80 hours

Recommended texts

Evans, Katie, et al. Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Elsevier, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central.

There is no required text for FMHN, however, this contemporary Australian textbook is highly recommended. You will find explanations of the key concepts and terms used in this subject, and the chapters are presented in an informative and engaging way.

The textbook is available online through the UTS Library link below. (Links to an external site.)

If you have trouble accessing via the link, please search the Library database:


Details of references used in this subject will be provided on Canvas.

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 Canvas 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.

The Accessibility and Financial Assistance Service
?The Accessibility Service can support students with disabilities, medical or mental health conditions, including temporary injuries (e.g., broken limbs). The Accessibility Service works with Academic Liaison Officers in each Faculty to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as exam provisions, assistive technology, requests and strategies for managing your studies alongside your health condition. If you’re unsure whether you need assistance, we recommend getting in touch early and we can provide advice on how our service can assist you. Make an appointment with an Accessibility Consultant (AC) on +61 2 9514 1177 or

The Financial Assistance Service can assist you with financial aspects of life at university, including Centrelink information, tax returns and budgeting, interest-free student loans and grants to assist with course-related costs. Check eligibility and apply online and make an appointment on +61 2 9514 1177 or