Emerging Minds

Understanding child mental health

About the course

This course is a foundation for all of Emerging Minds’ e-learning courses. It will provide you with key understandings that will support your engagement with any of the areas that you choose to pursue within Emerging Minds’ resources.

It explores mental health for children aged 0-12 years. It will help practitioners to identify the factors that support positive mental health in children, and understand how the different parts of a child’s world interact to influence their social and emotional wellbeing.

Throughout this course, you will be invited to consider the foundational importance of a child’s relationship with their parent(s) or caregiver(s), and to reflect on the factors that can affect this relationship.

Who is this course for?

This course is for anyone who wants to better understand the factors that influence child mental health. If you want to enhance your work with children, families or parents, develop your understanding of child mental health, or further engage with Emerging Minds' resources, then this course will provide you with the necessary foundational knowledge to achieve those aims.

Direct work with children who are experiencing mental health concerns requires specialised skills that are not addressed in this foundation course. If you are concerned about a child’s mental health, you may wish to encourage the parents to contact their GP.

Learning aims

As you progress through this course, you will work towards being able to:

  • Describe the factors that contribute to children’s positive mental health.
  • Define the range of interconnected factors that exist in children’s relational and social world that affect children’s mental health.
  • Recognise that children’s mental health and wellbeing occur along a dynamic continuum, from positive mental health to diagnosed mental health conditions.
  • Explain the central role of the parent-child relationship, and how the parent’s circumstances, parent behaviour, and the child’s inner emotional world are interconnected.
  • Describe how mental health difficulties can present in children, and that this is different to how adult mental health difficulties present.


It is estimated that this course will take you one hour to complete, including reading material and watching videos.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked, and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.


This course features videos of fictional parents and family scenarios. As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow the self-care tips below and seek help if needed:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel that you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course, and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course.

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


For the purposes of this course, the term parent encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Social and emotional wellbeing refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths. It is integral to child development.1

Social and emotional development involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy
  • establish and maintain relationships.2



This course draws on the latest research, clinical insights, and the lived experience of our child and family partners. We’d like to thank the professionals and families who played an integral role in shaping this course, generously offering their time, wisdom and unique perspectives.

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

Watch the following video for a quick guide on how to navigate Emerging Minds Learning courses.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.


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