Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Monash University

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Organisational UnitSchool of Psychological Sciences
OfferedNot offered in 2014


This unit deals with two major disabilities associated with mental health problems: intellectual disability and substance misuse. Topics include aetiology of intellectual disability, epidemiology of mental illness in intellectual disability, manifestations of mental illness in the intellectually disabled, management issues for the intellectually disabled, substance use, harmful use, addiction, dependence and other definitions, determinants of substance use and abuse, substance use and precipitation of mental illness, motivational intervention, models of change and harm minimisation in the area of dependency, and HIV and substance misuse.


  1. Intellectual Disability

Upon completion of this unit students will:

  1. Have an understanding of the interaction between the aetiologies of intellectual disability and of mental disorder;
  2. Be aware of the epidemiological background to mental disorder in intellectual disability;
  3. Understand the key principles and philosophies of care for persons with learning difficulties in the more general case;
  4. Understand how to incorporate the general principles of care for those with intellectual disabilities into psychiatric management; and
  5. Understand the application of special strategies for management of mental disorder in the case of those with intellectual disability.
2. Substance Misuse

Students will also:

  1. Understand the determinants of substance use in the general population;
  2. Understand the social and individual determinants of pathological substance use;
  3. Be aware of definitions of various patterns of abnormal substance use;
  4. Be aware of current understandings and treatment strategies in the area of substance misuse;
  5. Understand the role of substance misuse in precipitating psychiatric and medical disorder;
  6. Understand the ways in which psychiatric disorders may affect individuals ability to respond to treatment interventions for substance misuse and
  7. Know how to adapt strategies for management of substance misuse to the specific problems of those with mental illness.


Assessment for the Mental Illness and Alcohol and Other Drugs component of the unit consists of a 1,500 - 2,000 word (approx) assignment weighted at 35% and a 1,000 word (approx.) learning journal weighted at 15%. Assessment for the Mental Illness and Intellectual Disability component of the course consists of a 2,000 word assignment weighted at 40% and a 1,000 word (approx.) learning journal weighted at 10%. All assessment tasks must be passed to pass the unit.