CMH5012 - Psychopharmacology and physical treatments in mental health care - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

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


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health


Mr Chris Brooks

Unit guides


Monash Medical Centre

  • Second semester 2017 (Online)


This online unit provides students with a theoretical underpinning of psychopharmacology and physical treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), as used in contemporary psychiatric practice.

Students will be introduced to the pharmacokinetics of medications used in psychiatric practice, and to the principles of safe prescribing according to the age, health and cultural background of the patient involved.

Students will use the foundational knowledge of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and therapeutics, in order to critically analyse how medications affect physiological, biochemical and pathophysiological processes.

Students will also be introduced to the special considerations and issues that pertain to working with patients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.The unit will cover antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics, mood stabilisers, psychostimulants and other adjunctive psychotropic medications.

Students will appraise medication indications, mechanisms of action, dose titration and contemporary uses, side-effects, drug interactions and relevant communication challenges in psychopharmacology.

Similarly, with physical therapies like ECT and TMS, the indications, mechanisms of action, side-effects and interaction with pharmacotherapies will be explored.

This unit will be of interest to training psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, general practitioners, mental health nurses and case managers engaged in the care of mental health consumers.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to;

  1. Evaluate the pharmacokinetics and pharmacological activity of psychotropic medications in application to mental health disorders;
  2. Appraise the indications for, use of and adverse effects of psychotropic medications;
  3. Assess critically the risks for drug interactions and the safe use of psychotropics in complex medical settings;
  4. Articulate the indications, use of, benefits and harms of psychiatric physical treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation therapies;
  5. Appraise the provision of integrated models of care combining psychotropic and psychotherapeutic management, including augmentation therapies and selected evidence-based complimentary therapies;
  6. Design comprehensive mental health management plans, integrating appropriate psychotropic medication and psychotherapy across the range of mental health settings including culturally diverse patient groups.


  • Case study analysis (2000 words) (30%)
  • Comprehensive patient management plan (2000 words) (30%)
  • End of semester evidence-based evaluation (2-hour online Extended MCQ/ SAQ using a secure browser) (30%)
  • Hurdle Requirement: Attendance at the Residential Weekend (with marks for participation in clinical case exercises) (10%)

Workload requirements

Off-campus: The expected input from students will be primarily off campus as this is an online unit. Each week will involve six hours of teacher directed learning and 6 hours of personal, non-directed learning. Students will be expected to log on each week, work through their workbook, engage in case based discussion forum, listen to a voice over of a two-hour power-point lecture, and read classic papers. Students will be expected to undertake additional readings (approximately six hours per week) and dedicate time to the three assessment tasks assigned to this unit.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

Off-campus attendance requirements

One residential weekend will be held during the semester

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study