Understanding Mental Health and Illness (NURS2004)


This unit of study is the first of two focusing on mental health nursing and is based on the principle that mental health knowledge and skills are essential for all nurses, regardless of their healthcare setting. The unit is underpinned by an evidence-based holistic understanding of mental health and illness. The unit aims to introduce students to constructs of mental health and wellbeing and mental illness and to the nurse's role in promoting mental health, preventing mental illness and minimising the negative effects of illness for individuals, family/carers and the community. Students will explore and develop core mental health nursing values, skills and knowledge. Consumer and carer perspectives will inform students' understandings of mental health and mental health problems as experienced across the lifespan by children, young people and adults, and older persons of varying cultural and gendered backgrounds. Mental health problems are explored with respect to the latest evidence for risk/protective factors, symptomatology, co-morbidities, nursing care, and psychotherapeutic and physical treatment approaches. The nurse's effective use of self and the therapeutic nurse/client interpersonal relationship as core mental health nursing skills are addressed from theoretical and practical perspectives. Students will develop key mental health assessment and clinical nursing skills. The scope of nursing practice is addressed in a range of mental health and ethico-legal contexts with the overall aim of generating nursing care that supports effective outcomes for mental health consumers and their family/carers.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


13x2-hr lectures, and 8x2-hr tutorials


Student assessment (100%) conducted throughout the semester, as advised within the relevant unit of study outline

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


36 Year 1 credit points including NURS1008

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.