1 x 3-hour tutorial fortnightly
1 x 3-hour workshop fortnightly
1 1 of HLTH1004, HLTH1210, MMED1005
2 PARA1008 - Integrated Clinical Physiology for Paramedics
3 13.5 units of PARA2 topics
Must Satisfy: (1 and 2 and 3)
Assumed knowledge
Basic Life Support.
Assignments; Tutorial presentation.
Topic description

Mental health emergencies form a considerable part of the case load for workers in the prehospital arena. It is necessary for these providers to be aware of the incidence, the presentations and the care of mental illness. In addition it is imperative that good communication, assessment and risk management skills are implemented for the safety of the clinician and the patient. A sound understanding of the legal and policy controlling mental health as well as the available resources is necessary to ensure best possible care for the patients.

Educational aims

Mental health and mental illness within the community are a significant concern for those who work in the pre-hospital health care field. This topic explores the characteristics and prevalence of mental illness encountered in the pre-hospital setting. This includes the utilisation of mental health services, their availability, and the individual and social implications of living with a mental illness. The topic introduces students to current thinking in mental health reform, strategies for assessment, risk management and safe and effective provision of care. Emphasis is placed on safe and effective communication skills and the use of de-escalation when attending acute presentations.

Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Outline the prevalence of mental illness within the Australian community and its effects on families and individuals
  2. Discuss current mental health reform and outline the legal and policy framework which regulates mental health care within South Australia and Australia
  3. Identify the relevance of the South Australian Mental Health Act to pre-hospital health care
  4. Discuss the individual and social factors which cause stigma and discrimination for those living with a mental illness
  5. Describe and identify the common presenting features seen in the range of different mental illnesses
  6. Conduct a mental state assessment and a risk assessment of someone who presents with a mental illness
  7. Demonstrate safe and effective communication strategies which could be used when caring for a person with mental illness
  8. Identify common medications used in mental health care and describe the indications, actions and side effects of these medications
  9. Identify common short term and long term treatments available for those with mental illness
  10. Describe local policies, mental health care support networks and risk management strategies that assist the pre-hospital care provider when attending those with mental illness
  11. Discuss the interaction of drugs and alcohol use with mental illness and the effect that has on care provision
  12. Identify the presenting features and care of a patient with drug/alcohol withdrawal or overdose
  13. Identify suicidal and self-harm behaviours
  14. Discuss and recognise the reasons for the frequent health care utilisation by a cohort of those needing mental health care and identify the rationality of care provided for these clients
  15. Identify strategies which will aid the pre-hospital care provider to de-escalate potentially aggressive situations