982 Mental Health Work: Specialisation Programme



The curriculum for the “Interdisciplinary Specialisation in Mental Health Work” at Telemark University College aims to realise the national curriculum and regulations for the specialisation programme in Mental Health Work of 12th January 2005.

The study programme curriculum is to be understood as the student’s contract with the teaching facility, and includes a basic description of how this contract should be executed. In addition, the curriculum will serve as a working and guidance tool for distributing information about the department’s professional pedagogical activities.

No part of the programme allows for the individual assessment of external candidates.

The curriculum for the specialisation programme in Mental Health Work has been approved by the dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Work Studies. The revised curriculum will come into force from autumn 2013.


Mental Health Work

The goals of specialised study programmes in general, according to White Paper no. 40 (1987-88), the National Health Plan, are:

- To ensure that each student will acquire knowledge

- To provide health and social workers with knowledge in accordance with new needs and objectives

In this specialisation programme, students will develop comprehensive professional skills which will integrate theoretical insights, personal skills and professional job-related skills.

Mental health is a principal and comprehensive concept of the study programme. The concept is carefully selected, with the intention of complementing professional medical psychiatry with a humanistically oriented ideology. The curriculum is thereby anchored within a humanistic approach to humanity and science, and the study programme’s content and teaching and learning methods clearly reflect this approach.

Mental health work includes work with, and services to, people of all ages with mental disabilities and less serious illnesses, conditions and problems.

The Mental Health Work specialisation programme emphasises patients’/clients’ and families’ active participation in the formulation of the health care provided, including treatment, prevention and health promotion. The needs of the users dictate which services are offered. The study programme uses, focuses on and balances central knowledge sources in the field, as well as user-experience materials, clinical expertise and research-based knowledge.

Target Group and Admission Requirements

The target group is health and social workers who wish to work with, and develop their skills in relation to, people with various forms of mental illnesses. To gain admission to the study programme students must have a three-year degree in health and social studies, and at least one year of relevant professional practice after having obtained their degree. Applicants with other relevant educational qualifications and practical experience may also apply.

Aim of the Programme

The aim of the programme is to qualify health and social workers to provide mental health care in the specialised health services and in the municipal health and social services sector. After graduation, students will be able to provide specific professional help and care for people affected by mental health problems, and contribute to interdisciplinary collaboration.

Learning outcome


The candidate has thorough knowledge of:

- Various theoretical models of mental health and illness

- Policy guidelines, organisation and challenges

- Participation, empowerment and user perspectives in mental health

- The field of practical training’s professional and academic foundation and methodological tools

- Research processes


The candidate can:

- Develop insights into the phenomena of mental health and mental illness through methodological analysis of his/her own or others’ experiences

- Apply theoretical knowledge in interactive situations

- Work independently with practical, relational and theoretical challenges within his/her field of practice

- Conduct research or professional development projects under supervision

General competence

The candidate can:

- Apply his/her knowledge and skills when establishing relationships with people who are struggling with mental health problems and illness

- Plan, implement and evaluate integrated services involving all parties concerned, including families

- Contribute to professional innovation

Curriculum and structure

Overview of courses
Code Course title Credits O/V *) Credits pr. semester
  S1(A) S2(V) S3(A) S4(V)
982 E1 Mental Health and Illness: A Theoretical
and Experience-Based Introduction
15.00 O 15      
982-E2 982 E2 Mental Health Work: Theoretical
Explanations and Practical Simulations
15.00 O   15    
982-E3 Mental Health Work in Practice 15.00 O     15  
982-E4 Research and Professional Development in
Mental Health Work
15.00 O       15
Total: 15 15 15 15
*) O - Mandatory course, V - Optional course

The study programme is divided into four courses, each worth 15 ECTS. Courses 1 and 2 constitute the study programme’s common foundation studies, and courses 3 and 4 constitute an interdisciplinary specialisation in psychosocial work. Students who successfully complete courses 1 and 2 will also be eligible to study a specialisation unit other than the one offered by Telemark University College, and may apply for transfer to another college that offers said specialisation unit. In addition to the interdisciplinary specialisation in psychosocial work offered at Telemark University College, there is also the option of specific specialisation within nursing, social work and physiotherapy.

The study programme is a part-time course of studies of two years’ duration, comprising ca. 20 hours of study per week. The college offers a teaching programme that is organised into four one-week workshops per semester. In addition, students will be responsible for organising their own studies.


The college’s Department of Health Studies has a comprehensive programme for international activities, especially in relation to exchange agreements for students who wish to take part of their studies abroad. Students who wish to take parts of their study abroad must demonstrate acceptable progression in the study programme, and participate in obligatory courses in connection with internationalisation. Those students who wish to undertake part of their studies abroad should contact the course coordinator for course 3, and in cooperation with the coordinator clarify the necessary formalities.

Teaching and Learning Methods

Education and learning

The study programme has a scientific, phenomenological and humanistic approach to knowledge acquisition and knowledge creation. The study programme’s approach to knowledge and learning is based on evidence-based practice (EBP). This means that the student programme’s knowledge base, in addition to scientifically based knowledge, also includes knowledge related to health professionals’ clinical experiences and users’ personal experiences within educational, research and professional fields of activity that constitute mental health work. A phenomenological-based working method is utilised throughout the course of the study programme’s that challenges the various sources of knowledge in the field, aiming to develop the students’ professional knowledge, analytical skills and practical relational skills. The study programme thus emphasises the fact that knowledge acquisition, knowledge development and personal development involves multifaceted activities that require different didactic approaches.

Learning activities and organization

With the aim of clarifying the knowledge that is embodied in one’s own experiences, the study programme takes as its starting point the students’ own situation descriptions of key phenomena in psychiatric nursing. This may involve different phenomena such as the use of force, the role of families, anxiety, depression and serious mental illness. In working with their own experiences, students must apply scientific knowledge related to the phenomenon under investigation. The study programme in this connection emphasises the importance of students reading the syllabus literature closely, and finding relevant knowledge about the phenomenon from scientifically controlled databases. Training will be provided in database use and teaching in topics such as text composition, project work and scientific method. Some key topics will be addressed through resource lectures.

Evidence-based knowledge will also be focused on through other teaching and learning methods. As a general feature of the study programme, dialogue and discussions will be arranged where students will have the opportunity to use their own subject knowledge and their own experience in interacting with peers, users and the college’s academic staff. Students will be organized into interdisciplinary study groups where provision will be made for activities that involve case methods, role play and practical guidance. Each study group will be assigned an academic advisor. Group work that is indicated on the study programme timetable will require mandatory attendance. The time required by students to complete assignments will be organized by students outside the scheduled timetable.

The program uses ICT as a tool in instruction, guidance, to provide information, student collaboration and submission of student work. The students need to have access to computers and the Internet.

Theory and Practical Training

Through clinical studies, students will to a great degree have the opportunity to develop their relational and clinical knowledge and expertise. During this period, students will use the professional expertise and organization of the practical training field as a starting point, and on the basis of this outline a learning pathway that 1) satisfies the curriculum requirements for learning outcomes, 2) express their own learning needs and 3) takes into account the users’ integrity, knowledge and preferences.

Clinical practice is placed under course 3 Mental Health Work in Practice and is organized as a continuous 10-week period. Students must choose the institution in which they will carry out their practical training in consultation with the course coordinator. If the period of practical training is to be completed at the health institution STHF, this must be agreed with the course coordinator within the stipulated deadline. Students also have the opportunity of doing project practical-training. Students will be allocated a supervisor at the practical training institution; the supervisor should possess formal training in counselling as far as this is possible. In addition, students will also be followed up by a pedagogical supervisor from the college. The practical training institutions must be approved according to specified quality criteria.

In the practical placement studies the student will be assessed in relation to their personal and professional competence in their meeting with people with mental illnesses, their relatives and other cooperative partners. The student’s attitudes and skills will be assessed in relation to relationship- action- and cooperation skills.

The clinical practice must gain a passing mark before the student will be allowed to continue studies.

The study programme’s clinical learning activities will in addition to clinical practice consist of role playing and supervision in groups. The focus of the supervision groups will be professional and personal growth and professional practice. The guidance will be aimed at reflecting on students’ own practical execution of professional duties. The basis of supervision is related to clinical practice. Students will attend supervision seminars during the period of practical training. Attendance is mandatory. Instruction will be given on supervision theories and techniques relating to the seminars. The subject teacher will lead the seminars and will be present during half of the supervision sessions to provide professional feedback. In the role plays, the students will describe a situation from their own clinical practice that is filmed and analyzed in class.

Assessment Methods

The forms of assessment are stipulated in the national curriculum and regulations for specialisation programmes in mental health work, the Norwegian Universities’ Act and Telemark University College’s examination regulations.

The assignments/study programme requirements will contribute to subject area specialisation and integration of various subject areas – theory and practice. Throughout the whole of the study programme students will be presented with various assignments/programme requirements that must be completed if students are to receive a passing grade for the study programme. However, the assessment of the various assignments will be given different weighting. More specific details for the individual programme requirements are described in an attachment to the curriculum, which will be handed out at the beginning of the first semester. Programme requirements are assessed as pass/fail, while examinations are assessed according to the following scale.



General, qualitative description of assessment criteria



An excellent performance, clearly outstanding. The candidate demonstrates excellent judgement and a high degree of independent thinking.


Very good

A very good performance, which is above average. Shows independent thinking.



An average performance, which is satisfactory in the most important areas.



Below-average performance, with significant shortcomings.



A performance that meets the minimum criteria, but no more.



A performance that does not meet the minimum academic criteria.

To pass the final examination, the student must attain no less than an E. It is an absolute requirement to receive a passing grade. The criteria for a passing grade must reflect the competence level which corresponds to the academic level of the programme. The requirements for attaining a passing grade should not depend on the student’s ability to complete the programme. The borderline between pass and fail may be set at a higher level than between E and F, where the grade pass/fail is used rather than the letter-grade system.

In order to achieve a passing grade the candidate should exhibit sufficient knowledge and also to some extent be able to apply that knowledge in a professional manner in specific user, client and patient contexts. The candidate should be able to give an account of the main professional, ethical challenges and exhibit the relevant understanding for the subject and its corresponding area of responsibility.

In the case of a fail grade for a work assignment the student will be given two new opportunities within the course of the studies.

All study programme and examination requirements in each course must be successfully completed and passed before the student will be allowed to continue the course of studies.

Student attendance and special rules regarding attendance

All the teaching sessions and organised supervision are regarded as necessary learning activities. The organised learning activities will mainly be supplementary, provide different perspectives, and discuss relevant topics and methods in relation to the syllabus literature. Scientific understanding and experienced-based learning will to a great extent characterise the teaching in relation to the specific topics. It is expected that the fact-based knowledge will to a great extent be acquired by the student independently, so that they will be prepared to participate in reflections and discussions during the course of studies.

Obligatory attendance will be required for the following parts of the study programme:

- Study and supervision groups

- Presentations and instruction in relation to study programme requirements

- Completion of study programme requirements

Within the above areas it is required that students have 75% attendance.

For clinical studies 90% attendance is required, irrespective of the reasons for absence.

Control of attendance:

With regard to clinical studies absence will be reported on the assessment form.

Consequences of insufficient attendance:

If the student does not fulfil the attendance requirement in the study group then the student in question must submit for approval a written assignment on a topic which has been discussed in the group.

If the student does not fulfil the attendance requirement in the project examination, then he/she will be assessed as “not approved”. The student must then write a new project within the deadline set by the supervisor.

If a student has less than 75% attendance in the clinical studies, then the student must redo this part of the study programme. If the student has less than 90% attendance, but more than 75%, then the student must compensate the number of days short when this has been agreed on.

The head of the department may under special circumstances dispense with the attendance regulations.

The study programme is subject to minor changes.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Publisert av / forfatter Frode Evenstad <Frode.EvenstadSPAMFILTER@hit.no>, last modified Ian Hector Harkness - 17/03/2013