Summary of learning journey

This guided learning journey is centred around Shannon a 20 year old Aboriginal woman from a rural area in Australia. Shannon has a partner Charlie and is pregnant with her first child. Shannon goes into labour and travels to the city to have her baby. About two days after the birth of her baby Jack, Shannon becomes unwell, is restless, agitated and unable to sleep. The midwives are concerned about her mental health and she is assessed by a mental health nurse before being transferred to a mother and baby unit. This learning journey involves exploration of and understanding about racism, culture, puerperal psychosis and mental health assessment.


Student instructions

Instructions for students are provided in the attachment below:

Shannon instructions


Learning outcomes

  • Identify a range of effective appropriate and culturally safe communication strategies to assess and promote a person's mental health and recovery from mental illness
  • Discuss the development and maintenance of partnerships with the person and her immediate and extended family.
  • Critically reflect on personal attitudes and values regarding cultural interpretations of mental illness (for example, individualistic and community based world views)
  • Describe contemporary issues in indigenous health care (for example, assumptions and stereotypes, access and equity, rural and remote issues)



This learning journey was written by Professor Eimear Muir-Cochrane, Associate Professor Wendy Edmondson and Ms Deb O'Kane.


Professor Eimear Muir Cochane has authored mental health texts, monographs and multiple book chapters. Eimear is lead author on an ‘app’ for mental health assessment with Elsevier publishers, due for publication in 2014. Her text ‘Mosby’s Pocket Book of Mental Health’ will be published as a second edition in 2014 and has been adopted at 20 universities teaching undergraduate health degrees. Eimear also has considerable expertise in the use of simulation (virtual reality via Second Life) in teaching mental health, supported by DOHA funding and is an OLT assessor. In 2007, Eimear was awarded a Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning and has received five University teaching and learning awards. In 2010-2012, Eimear was Acting Chair of the Mental Health Nurse Education Taskforce Implementation Group: a subcommittee of the Mental Health Workforce Advisory Committee. Eimear is also the sole mental health nurse expert on the Mental Health Professional Online Development Project for the Australian Mental Health Workforce 2008-2013.


Wendy, a Badimia Aboriginal woman, has worked in the Indigenous arena for a total of 35 years, in the areas of educations, the arts, and for the last 15 years, in Indigenous medical education and the Aboriginal community controlled health sector. Wendy is the former CEO of the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, and Wirraka Maya Aboriginal Medical Service, in the Pilbara. Wendy will bring extensive experience across a range of Aboriginal health sectors, strong networks with Aboriginal communities, community-based cultural knowledge, academic experience and research knowledge.


Deb O’Kane has over 24 years’ experience working in mental health practice with multiple book chapters focusing on psychology and mental health. She currently works as a lecturer at Flinders University where for the last 8 years has developed, coordinated and taught on various undergraduate and post graduate mental health topics as well as fostering educational collaborations and developments in the field of mental health practice. Deb’s professional accomplishments include establishing clear links and local service collaborations on projects to support quality learning, teaching and assessment practice in mental health. Her work has lead to a number of publications in peer reviewed journals.


Supporting resources

These resources will help orient you to the learning materials presented in this learning journey

beyondblue - Stop Think Respect video

Head Up, Heart Strong - post natal depression

I fought post-natal psychosis in a mother and baby unit - blog



Hint: click on the image to navigate to a section


1. Meet Shannon

2. Cultural background

3. Shannon in a maternity unit


4. Breastfeeding and racism

5. Caring for someone with psychosis

6. Breastfeeding issues


7. Professional practice issues

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This project is a collaboration between the following project partners.