Mental Health Nursing Practice (NURS5085)


This unit of study is based on the principle that knowledge of mental health and illness and skills related to working with people with compromised mental health, are essential for all nurses. The unit of study is underpinned by a biopsychosocial or whole-person approach that privileges the individual experience of those with mental health problems. Students are introduced to the constructs of mental health and wellbeing and mental illness and how these apply across the life span alongside cultural and gender influences. Using the context of a whole-person approach, students will explore the role of the nurse in promoting mental health, preventing mental health problems and minimising negative effects of mental illness for individuals and their family/carers. Mental health and illness are explored in relation to determinants of health/risk and protective factors; the stress-vulnerability model, prevalent and low-prevalent mental health problems (for example depression and schizophrenia) and the varied manifestations of symptoms, including mood, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms. Current evidence for nursing care, psychotherapeutic interventions and physical treatment approaches are addressed in relation to symptom management and promotion of mental health and wellbeing. Consumer and carer perspectives will inform and further strengthen students' understandings. Comorbid physical health conditions and/or poor physical health are common for people experiencing mental health problems regardless of age or diagnosis. In addition, high co-occurrence of substance use is an area of significant concern for this population. These issues increase the complexity and burden of illness. Comorbid conditions and their implications are broadly addressed and the nursing management of comorbid conditions is considered. The nurse's effective use of self and the therapeutic nurse/client relationship are core aspects of nursing practice with mental health consumers that are addressed from both a theoretical and practical perspective. Students will consider how to develop and demonstrate requisite interpersonal communication skills and will develop foundational assessment and interviewing skills. The care continuum in mental health and the scope of nursing practice in a range of mental health and ethico-legal contexts are addressed with the overall aim of promoting nursing practice that supports effective outcomes for mental health consumers and their family/carers across community, primary and acute care settings.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


12x2-hr lectures, 8x2-hr tutorials, and clinical placements (120-hrs)


online quiz (15%) and essay (35%) and written examination (50%) and satisfactory off-campus clinical performance

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules



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.