Integrating Physical and Mental Health (200202)

Unit Type Core Unit
Credit Points 10
Delivery Mode Face to face onsite, e-Learning (online), Mixed / blended, Part Time

The co-existence of physical and mental illness is common across all populations and service settings.  While the biopsychosocial model is a holistic approach to care, this has been criticised in its application for neglect of genuine attention to the physical health needs of people with lived experience of mental illness.  Recent scrutiny of this topic has resulted in calls for greatly improved approaches to care and outcomes.    
Using the CanMEDS domains of Professional and Medical Expert, students will investigate opportunities and barriers to the implementation of collaborative, integrated approaches to care.  Students will increase their collaborative skills across consultation liaison and other settings in contributing to both improving the mental health of people with physical illness, and physical health of people with mental illness, taking into account the limitations of these distinctions.  Topics covered will include responses to medical illness and trauma, abnormal illness behaviour, and demoralisation.    
Within a holistic recovery-oriented approach, helping people to manage their physical health is core to psychiatric practice.  Medical practitioners are expected to contribute to improving the mental health of their patients, and also model good practice in self-care.  Students will further develop strategies for maintaining professional standards and importantly, address self-care as mental health professionals.

Learning Outcomes:

In this unit of study, recovery-oriented approach, and knowledge of the relationship of physical and mental illness and their treatments, students will be able to:


Reflect upon personal self-care and professional development and develop a plan for prioritised improvement.


Critically appraise and evaluate opportunities and barriers to applying contemporary research, psychiatric knowledge and treatment guidelines regarding collaborative and integrated management of physical and mental health within a current or recent work setting.


Identify and apply competency, informed consent, duty of care and local mental health law as they apply to a team of professionals working with medically-ill patients, including those refusing treatment.


Critically appraise the influence of various industries, resource availability, and the history of psychiatry, upon the maintenance of a recovery orientation in professional practice.


Critically appraise the literature and explore the effects of serious mental illness on health service outcomes and elaborate on and justify one opportunity to improve practice.


Analyse the effects of specific care settings and the practitioner’s role when attributing and investigating symptoms/presentations that may represent physical or mental illness; apply to the assessment and management of a person with a complex presentation.