Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLPRAC 761 - Mental Health in Old Age

30 Points

Semester 2


Course offered by the School of Nursing


Explores mental health in old age, including positive mental health and the range of mental health challenges facing older adults. There will be a focus on mental health issues and care across the health continuum, including primary care, specialist mental health services, and aged care services.  


Restriction: NURSING 747, POPLPRAC 727

Aims of the course

This course seeks to enhance the skills, knowledge base and understanding of mental health in later life for registered nurses and health professionals working with older people, and their families, in a range of settings across the health continuum which may include primary health care, specialist nursing, and acute and residential care.

The course explores mental health in old age, including positive mental health and the range of mental health challenges facing older adults utilising a biological, social, psychological and cultural approach to address key mental health issues. The interdisciplinary nature of older adult mental health care is emphasised throughout the course and draws on numerous disciplines to examine mental health from a variety of perspectives including social science and public health. It focuses on mental health issues across the health continuum, covering prevalence, treatment and care of older adults with mental illness and mental health problems including assessment, multi-comorbidities, psychological and behavioural therapies, pharmacology interdisciplinary team work and care coordination.

Learning Outcomes

The course has been developed to allow students to explore mental health issues that are pertinent to older people and will

  • Identify and explore mental health issues in later life
  • Explore the concept of positive mental health in old age
  • Explore the epidemiology of mental health problems in older adults internationally and in New Zealand
  • Explore and review techniques, tools and methods used in the assessment of mentally ill older people
  • Explore disorders in mental health prevalent in later life and critically review the treatment and clinical management regimes
  • Critically review New Zealand policy literature related to older adult mental health
  • Review the continuum of health services for older people in New Zealand with specific emphasis on response to mental health issues
  • Review the legislation and ethico-legal issues relating to mental health care of older people
  • Critically reflect on the role and practice of health professionals to include the patient and carer experience

Course Structure and Delivery

The course has five study days in a two day and three day study block. Additional course material, links to online resources and communication with the course lecturers are provided through the Canvas website.




Assessment 1 (Written assignment)

2500 words


Assessment 2 (written assignment)

2000 words


Assessment 3 (Written assignment)

3000 words


Course Coordinator

Course Administrator

Clinical Coordinators