PIT5010 - Ethics of mental health care - 2019

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

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Fiona Best


Dr Fiona Best

Unit guides




Must be enrolled in M6022 Master of Psychiatry stream


Ethics of mental health care will cover the essentials components of psychiatric ethics and is recognised by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) as part of an accredited formal education course that includes an elective ethics component.

This unit teaches ethical concepts in capacity, the ethics of coercive treatment, boundary issues, issues of the exercise of power in psychiatry, privacy ad confidentiality, relationships with industry (particularly pharmaceutical companies), end-of-life decisions (including 'do not resuscitate' orders), child protection, ethics of duality and conflicts of interest and the ethics of the distribution of healthcare resources.

Professionalism in the workplace is introduced with teaching on personal ethics and integrity, maintaining professional standards, and personal well being. The unit also examines the principles underpinning mental health legislation and local legislation as it applies to specific groups of patients (forensic, child, adolescent and addiction), responsibilities under the Mental Health Act, relevant common law principles, e.g. capacity, necessity, duty-of-care, duty-to-warn, mandatory reporting requirements (including ethical considerations and health practitioner's context), testamentary capacity, advance health directives, supported and substitute decision making (e.g. guardianship and administration, and enduring power of attorney), understanding the role of an expert in legal proceedings, and the principles of psychiatric defences and fitness to plead/stand trial


Successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Analyse and evaluate ethics of capacity, coercive treatment, privacy and confidentiality, boundary issues, power imbalances, and conflicts of interest and apply this to clinical practice examples.
  2. Apply essential clinical ethical understanding to end-of-life decisions, responsibilities under the Mental Health Act in patient care, duty of care and duty to warn and testamentary capacity.
  3. Apply knowledge of advance health directives and supported and substitute decision making (guardianship and administration, and enduring power of attorney) in the clinical setting.
  4. Understand the ethical principles underpinning role of the expert in legal proceedings (including report writing and giving evidence in court) and applying principles of legislated mental impairment defences, culpability and fitness to plead and stand trial.
  5. Critically analyse ethical principles and professionalism in psychiatry during psychiatric interviews with reference to the evidence base, mental health law and legislations, peer review and supervision and personal reflection.
  6. Understand mandatory reporting requirements and evaluate the ethical considerations, the health practitioner's context and child protection.


  • 4 x Online commentaries (500 words each) (30% total) (hurdle)
  • Written essay (2,000 words) (30%)
  • Applied Learning Exercise (2,000 words) (30%)
  • Presentation at Weekend Workshop (10%) (Hurdle)

Workload requirements

12 hours per week - online teacher directed (6) and self-directed (6h) .

See also Unit timetable information

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