MSc/PGDip Primary Mental Health Care pathway - APIMH

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Engagement and Assessment of Patients with Common Mental Health Problems

Unit code NURS60184
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Variable teaching patterns
Offered by School of Health Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The Department of Health (DH) commissioned a review of the PWP curriculum for a number of reasons, including developments in the evidence base, the need to refine the assessment process, the changing demands on Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services, new roles emerging with IAPT services and the need for a better integration of PWP course accreditation and the national curriculum, in particular the assessment of trainee competence.


Develop student’s knowledge and critical awareness of different models and frameworks applicable to supporting low intensity assessment and intervention.
Develop student’s knowledge and skills in undertaking a range of patient centred assessments including screening/triage; risk assessment; provisional diagnostic assessment; mental health clustering assessment; psychometric assessment (using the IAPT standardised symptoms measures); problem focused assessment; and intervention planning assessment.
Develop student’s knowledge and competencies of core ‘common factors’, including: active listening, engagement, alliance building, patient-centred information gathering, information giving and shared decision making.
Provide students with knowledge and awareness of the different evidence-based therapeutic options for low intensity work and of the range of other bio-psycho-social treatment options available to enable informed shared decision making.
All of the above will be implemented with diverse communities in mind.

Teaching and learning methods

The unit will be predominantly delivered via face to face teaching and skills workshops (equivalent to 15 days). This will be supplemented by a number of (10 days) practice based learning that extends learning into practice. Directed practice-based learning tasks include shadowing/observation, role play/practice with peers/colleagues of assessment and interventions, self-practice of interventions with reflection (i.e. applying techniques to issues from own life), and directed problem-based learning.
Students will also develop their clinical skills via simulation exercises conducted in the clinical skills labs or classroom.
Supportive materials will be available on Blackboard and these will include: handouts, presentations, lecture notes, links to key journal papers, key policy documents and reputable web sites. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the purposes and different types of assessment undertaken with people with common mental health. disorders including screening/triage, risk, provisional diagnosis, mental health clustering, psychometric, problem focused and intervention planning.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the importance of being patient-centred and the use of ‘common factors’ in establishing and maintaining therapeutic engagement.
  • Demonstrate an in-depth and critical understanding of the different bio-psycho-social treatment/support options available.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the worker’s own level of competence and boundaries of competence and role, and an understanding of how to work within a team and with other agencies with additional specific roles which cannot be fulfilled by the worker alone.

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate critical awareness of concepts of mental health and mental illness, diagnostic category systems in mental health and a range of social, medical and psychological explanatory models.
  • Demonstrate critical awareness of a range of models and frameworks underpinning low intensity assessment and management including models of emotion and behaviour change models.

Practical skills

  • Demonstrate competence in applying the principles, purposes and different types of assessment undertaken with people with common mental health disorders.
  • Demonstrate competence in applying the principles of patient-centredness and the use of ‘common factors’ to engage patients, gather information, build a therapeutic alliance with people with common mental health problems, manage the emotional content of sessions and grasp the patient’s perspective or “world view”.
  • Demonstrate competence in gathering patient-centred information on a wide range of issues including mental and physical health, employment needs, wellbeing and social inclusion.
  • Demonstrate competence in understanding the patients attitude to a range of mental health treatments including prescribed medication and evidence-based psychological treatments and in liaison and signposting to other agencies delivering employment, occupational and other advice and services

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate competence in accurate recording of interviews and questionnaire assessments using paper and electronic record keeping systems.
  • Understand the importance of regularly engaging in reflective practice.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of, and competence in responding to peoples’ needs sensitively and with regard to all aspects of diversity, including working with older people, the use of interpretation services and taking into account any physical and sensory difficulties service users may experience.
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness and understanding of the power issues in professional /service user relationships and importance of own values and attitudes.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 40%
Portfolio 20%
Oral assessment/presentation 40%

Feedback methods

Students will normally have the opportunity to receive feedback on formative work submitted prior to the summative assessment. Other feedback opportunities will also be available in class and online discussion boards. Online feedback is provided in Grademark. Provisional feedback based on internal marking will be made available prior to the Exam Board on the basis that these marks are yet to be ratified at the Exam Board and therefore may be subject to change. A standard feedback mechanism in Grademark is utilised across all postgraduate programmes within the School which provides detailed and constructive feedback on each component and aspect of assessment and identifies areas of strength and those aspects which could be enhanced.

Student feedback is obtained through open discussion forums on blackboard, in class discussions, via formal University unit evaluation forms and also qualitative, in house evaluations at the end of the unit. 

Recommended reading

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 90
Practical classes & workshops 60
Work based learning 75
Independent study hours
Independent study 75

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Janine Archer Unit coordinator

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