Course Title: Parent-Infant Mental Health

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Parent-Infant Mental Health

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


173H School of Health and Biomed


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018

Course Coordinator: A/Prof Kay McCauley

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 7554

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 201.07.006

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Bachelor degree or equivalent, in a related health or community service field. 

Course Description

In this course you will explore complex issues of parent and infant mental health. The neurobiology of infant brain development and the impact it has on children’s life trajectory will be explored in terms of relationships and experiences, with particular focus on infant - parent relationships. Topics such as parent anxiety, perinatal depression, trauma and substance misuse will be studied to assist you to understand the risk and protective factors that impact on outcomes for infants, young children and their families.. Key clinical assessment tools will be examined. Education, supports, strategies and targeted interventions that may be used to help families will also be explored and critically appraised. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the Program Learning Outcomes in the following way:

  • PLO 2:  Apply reflective thinking and critical analysis to maternal and child health (MCH) nursing and demonstrate a sound understanding of the legislation, ethical codes and professional guidelines that direct professional practice.
  • PLO 3: Critically evaluate contemporary research findings and integrate these to provide comprehensive, safe and effective evidence based health care for children, families and the community.
  • PLO 4: Demonstrate advanced clinical maternal and child health nursing skills including infant and child physical and developmental assessment, maternal and family health assessment and competent use of screening tools.
  • PLO 6:  Communicate effectively with children, families and groups to engage and support clients, working in partnership with families and interdisciplinary health teams to promote, assess and support maternal, child and family health and wellbeing

On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Review the evidence for the neurobiology of infant brain development and its critical importance for subsequent child development and later life trajectory.
  2. Adopt the lens of an infant mental health perspective to inform clinical practice. Demonstrate knowledge and skills to assess and promote emotional wellbeing, social support and positive parent-infant relationships and appropriately refer for further assessment or intervention as required.
  3. Critically examine, apply and interpret clinical tools used in the assessment of parent-infant mental health and relationships, including tools such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) Mental State Exam, infant observation methods, New Born Observation (NBO), and Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training (NCAST).
  4. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and nursing management of significant health issues impacting on families with complex issues including assessing the risk and safety factors for women and children and engaging fathers in family and community services.
  5. Recognise the need to work in multi-agency partnerships when working with families affected by serious issues such as family violence or substance misuse.


Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities you will undertake during this course include a mixture of formal lectures online learning packages, class based or online discussion and self-directed learning exercises including directed reading of academic literature to provide a solid theoretical basis to help you to achieve professional practice. You will also be expected to participate in workshops and other experiential exercises. Practice learning activities may be provided in a variety of ways, including simulated learning activities

Overview of Learning Resources

The learning resources associated with this course will include targeted readings taken from a range of both primary and secondary sources. Directed course readings from current journals, including WHO publications, and position statements, M&CH resource guides and other government publications will support your learning. Material to be chosen may be digitally available to you. Lecture material will be delivered via both face-to-face and online sessions and will be supplemented by class discussions, group work, DVDs workshops and RMIT Learning Management System resources. RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through the online system.

Overview of Assessment

This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Group engagement & Leadership activity

Weighting 20%

This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2 & 3

Assessment Task 2: Infant Observation exercise and Reflective journal

Weighting 40%

This assessment supports CLOs: 1, 2 & 3

Assessment Task 3: Choose one (1) of the following:

a) Videoanalysis of a Parent-Infant play Episode OR
b) Literature review on a Parent-Infant mental health topic

Weighting 40%

This assessment supports CLOs 2, 3, 4 & 5