PSYCH 723 : Mental Health Problems: Aetiology and Assessment


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Provides an overview of common mental health problems in childhood and adulthood and the methods that clinical psychologists use to assess these. Examines theories of causation and risk factors for a number of mental health problems. Also introduces and critiques diagnostic tools and psychometric instruments used in assessment.

Course Overview

This course provides an overview of common mental health problems in childhood and adulthood and the methods psychologists use to assess and understand these. The course will examine theories of aetiology and risk factors for a number of mental health problems. It will also introduce and critique the DSM-5 as a diagnostic tool as well as other strategies and psychometric instruments that can be used to facilitate psychological assessment. Diagnostic and other approaches to assessment will be taught against the background of a broader understanding of social, cultural and other contextual influences on the development and maintenance of mental health problems.

Course Requirements

Corequisite: PSYCH 718

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify a variety of mental health problems in children and adults. (Capability 1)
  2. Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the diagnostic systems used in mental health. (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Evaluate psychological strategies and psychometric tools used in the assessment and understanding of mental health problems. (Capability 1)
  4. Apply a range of aetiological explanations in the assessment of mental health problems. (Capability 1)
  5. Communicate a mental health assessment in professional report format. (Capability 1 and 4)
  6. Identify and evaluate ethical issues and risk management in psychological assessment. (Capability 1, 2 and 5)
  7. Identify and describe social and cultural factors in the development of mental health problems and the assessment of these. (Capability 1 and 6)
  8. Recognise and reflect upon Māori worldviews and the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi in mental health assessment. (Capability 1, 4 and 6)
  9. Use and apply research in recommendations for clinical practice. (Capability 1 and 2)
  10. Write critically, analytically and logically. (Capability 2 and 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 70% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 30% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Final Exam

Special Requirements

No special requirements.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 2 hours of lectures, 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 4 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including seminars to complete components of the course.
Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts 
Carr, A. & McNulty, M. (2006/2014). The handbook of adult clinical psychology. Hove: Routledge. [available at University Bookshop and online in the library] 
Recommended Texts 
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5.  Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association. [available at University Bookshop] 
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA:   American Psychiatric Publishing. [available at University Bookshop and online in the library] 

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Under the government’s Covid-19 Alert Levels, we anticipate using the following delivery modes. Note this is subject to change depending on the specific circumstances.
Level 1: Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode
Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching and assessment will have a remote option.
Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 16/02/2021 11:20 a.m.