HLTH 2931: Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing

This course is designed to foster understanding and critical thinking in relation to social, ethical, legal, professional, cultural aspects of psychiatric-mental health care, enhance therapeutic relational-communication skills, assess and plan care for common mental health challenges and increase awareness of the entry-level nursing competencies and standards of care within interprofessional and intersectoral psychiatric-mental health practice.

Learning outcomes

By working through the learning activities in the course students will:

  • Identify that mental health, mental illness, and mental handicapping/cognitive disabilities and substance abuse and addictions are separate and yet similar health experiences that fall under the purview of psychiatric/mental health nursing
  • Describe client rights and the standards of practice in the care of mental health clients under the Canadian health-care system
  • Define the role of Registered Nurses in Canada and British Columbia in working with the mental health client in inpatient, outpatient, and community settings
  • Identify members of the mental health multidisciplinary team and know the importance of the care team for overall client care
  • Identify the importance of developing mental health nursing skills that are holistic and caring
  • Be familiar with nursing practices for caring interventions that include nursing diagnoses, medication administration, and treatment modalities relevant to the field of psychiatry/mental health
  • Describe psychosocial concepts of coping, adaptation, needs, and growth and development related to caring for the mental health client
  • Gain awareness of the values, beliefs, and cultural perspectives of mental illness and addictions in developing a healthy foundation for working with this special population
  • Develop basic therapeutic communication skills and describe the importance of the nurse-client relationship as the core component in the professional helping relationship
  • Approach problems using critical thinking and the nursing decision-making process
  • Articulate and demonstrate sound knowledge of pharmacology/psychopharmacology in relation to medication administration to distressed, anxious, or traumatized mental health clients as well as those with psychiatric disorders
  • Effectively assess and intervene with clients diagnosed with mental illness/disorders, addictions, deviancy, and dementias
  • Identify the purpose and goals of therapeutic interactions including group therapy, therapeutic milieu, and milieu therapy
  • Be familiar with current issues, policies, and evidence-based practice related to safety for self and others when working with clients with mental/emotional health challenges and/or psychiatric disorders
  • Demonstrate awareness of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, mental health acts, Workers' Compensation Board regulations, and hospital policies that relate to working in psychiatry/mental health nursing
  • Develop an awareness of health promotion and community interventions/programs for the special populations discussed in this course
  • Link general nursing theory and psychiatric/mental nursing theory effectively toward the provision of best quality care for clients
  • Generalize concepts from this course to working with all clients faced with mental health/emotional challenges
  • Identify the role of the BCCNM and the Health Professions Act of B.C. in the provision of safe, competent care for all clients
  • Appreciate that psychiatric/mental health nursing is a specialty within nursing that may require on-going, continuing education post-baccalaureate for the provision of safe, competent care
  • Identify the core competencies and skills necessary for the delivery of safe, competent and caring psychiatric/mental health nursing care

Course topics

Module 1: Introduction to Mental Health

  • Unit 1: Defining Mental Health and Mental Illness
  • Unit 2: Role of the Nurse in Psychiatric/Mental Health Care
  • Unit 3: The Nurse-Client Relationship in Psychiatry/Mental Health

Module 2: Adaptation and Coping

  • Unit 1: Stress and Stressors
  • Unit 2: Anxiety Responses and Disorders
  • Unit 3: Applying Theory to Practice

Module 3: Mood Disorders

  • Unit 1: Affective Disorders-Mood and Emotional Responses
  • Unit 2: Major Mood Disorders
  • Unit 3: Applying Theory to Practice

Module 4: Schizophrenia

  • Unit 1: Schizophrenia-Disease or Disorder?
  • Unit 2: Acute and Chronic Schizophrenia
  • Unit 3: Applying Theory to Practice

Module 5: Organic Mental Disorders and Acquired Mental Disorders

  • Unit 1: Organicity and Cognition
  • Unit 2: Delirium, Dementia, and Depression in the Elderly
  • Unit 3: Applying Theory to Practice

Module 6: Mental Health Special Populations

  • Unit 1: Addictions, Aggression, and Deviancy
  • Unit 2: Additions and Aggression in the Hospital
  • Unit 3: Applying Theory to Practice

Module 7: Treatment Overview: Inpatient, Outpatient, and Community Health

  • Unit 1: Treatment Modalities-Inpatient and Outpatient Care
  • Unit 2: Community Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing
  • Unit 3: Group Therapy

Required text and materials

Students enrolling in this course will need to source the following textbook on their own:

  1. Kneisl, C. R., & Trigoboff, E. Contemporary Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2013.
    Type: Textbook, ISBN: 0-13-255777-0

Note: Textbook may be bundled with DSM-5 Transition Guide. Textbook Bundle ISBN: 978-0-13-358160-7

Additional requirements

Students will need to familiarize themselves with the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) professional and practice standards, competencies, and scope of practice. These resources are available in PDF format on the BCCNM website and will be referred to throughout the course:


Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.

To successfully complete this course, students must acheieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

All assignments must be completed, graded, and receive a passing grade in order for students to be successful in this course. Students applying this course toward a program in the School of Nursing must obtain 60% (C+) or better on the final mandatory exam and in the course overall, and maintain a cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.33 (65%) in the program.

Assignment 1 12%
Assignment 2 12%
Assignment 3 12%
Assignment 4 12%
Assignment 5 Discussions 12%
Final Exam (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through the Learning Environment’s “Mail” tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary contact information at start of course.

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