HLTH 2009 Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 401095

Coordinator Paul Simpson Opens in new window

Description This subject introduces students to mental health and behavioural presentations, and emergencies arising from legal and illegal substance use. Students will explore the epidemiology, pathophysiology, manifestation, recognition, assessment and management of common mental health problems, behavioural presentations, and cases involving legal and illegal drug use in the context of paramedicine. Students will practice techniques for managing these presentations from an interpersonal communication perspective and a clinical management perspective. Acute and sub-acute presentations will be discussed, with specific attention given to the role of the paramedic regarding risk assessment, counselling, and health promotion. Legalities associated with management of behaviourally disturbed or cognitively impaired patients will be discussed, and issues relating to multi-agency care, collaboration and co-operation will be examined.

School Health Sciences

Discipline Paramedical Studies

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 2 10cp

Check your fees via the Fees page.

Level Undergraduate Level 2 subject

Pre-requisite(s) HLTH 1009

Co-requisite(s) HLTH 2017


Students must be enrolled in 4669 Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedicine).

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Discuss the role of paramedics with regard to health promotion and injury prevention for patients with mental health, drug or alcohol related presentations
  2. Describe techniques for undertaking mental health and behavioural assessment and management in the prehospital environment
  3. Describe the clinical presentations associated with commonly encountered substances
  4. Apply patient assessment and clinical skills to cases involving mental health or substance affected patients
  5. Discuss the role of paramedics in the inter-professional care of mental health patients
  6. Discuss the prefessional, ethical and legal considerations surrounding management of a patient with a mental health or substance affected presentation

Subject Content

Mental health and behavioural (MH&B)
1. Epidemiology of MH and behavioural presentations and structure of MH care systems in Australia
2. Legal, cultural and social considerations associated with MH&B presentations
3. Communication with, and assessment of, MH&B patients
4. Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Psychotic Disorders, Personality Disorders, Dementia, delirium and confusion
Drug & substance use/abuse
1. Epidemiology of alcohol and drug use in Australia
2. Assessment, diagnosis and management of acute drug or substance use
3. Alcohol intoxication and alcoholism
4. Common illicit substances
5. Prescription and non-prescription medication abuse presentations
6. Mental health and drug use ? patients with dual presentations
7. Role of paramedic in health promotion and injury prevention

Special Requirements

Legislative pre-requisites

Special Requirements - NSW Health Legislative Prerequisites Pre-requisites

Student Compliance Information for all Health-Related Placements

Prior to enrolling in this subject, students must have submitted a Student Undertaking Form and undertake to apply for a National Police Check, which is required to be submitted before placement, and a Working with Children Check Student Declaration. Use the link to the Special Requirements webpage below for more information.

To be eligible to enrol in this subject and complete any required health-related placements or experiences, students must meet Western Sydney University program requirements as well as any special, legislated, or policy-mandated requirements.

Western Program Requirements

Visit the Special Requirements webpage for details about your program.

Special Requirements

Mandatory NSW Health student placement policy requirements

To be able to undertake placement in any NSW Health facility you must be assessed as compliant with NSW Health student placement policy in the first year of your program, regardless of when you expect to go on your first placement. Access and read the NSW Student Compliance Information Booklet.

NSW Student Compliance Information Booklet

Please ensure that you

  1.  Find your existing National Police Check or apply for one
  2.  Gather documentary evidence of your vaccination history
  3.  Print and compete all relevant NSW Health forms relevant to the campus you are enrolled at or online enrolment requirements
  4.  Follow booklet instructions on how to have your compliance documents assessed by NSW health staff.

International students have additional requirements; the link to the booklet will inform you of these requirements.

School Requirements

Contact your School for further details regarding your School’s requirements, if any, such as

  • If you live outside of NSW or Australia and need to meet your state, territory or country’s compliance requirements
  • If you need to meet different state, territory or country compliance requirements.
  • NSW Working with Children Check (WWCC) or other state equivalent, valid for your entire program.
  • Current approved first aid certificate valid for your entire program - approved program providers can be found at the Government Training website
  • http://training.gov.au
  • Other non-health related requirements.

Student Compliance Resources are also available on the Placements Hub web page (NSW students only)



The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Quiz Up to 30 questions in 30 minutes 10 N Individual
Case Study 1,500 words 30 N Individual
Simulation 30 minutes 40 Y Individual
Quiz Up to 60 questions in 60 minutes 20 N Individual