Emerging Minds

Understanding child mental health and chronic physical conditions

About the course

This course will provide you with an introduction to the impact of chronic physical conditions on the mental health of children aged 0–12 years. Information on the most prevalent chronic conditions in children is provided, along with interrelated factors that can affect children and families. It outlines the continuum of child mental health, and the factors that support it.

The course also describes approaches that can be used in medical settings to assist practitioners to engage children and their families in ways that support their mental health.

Who is this course for?

This course will support a broad range of practitioners to understand the factors that influence the mental health of children living with a chronic physical condition. This is a foundation course, and as such does not explore practice specific to working therapeutically with a child with a physical condition. It does, however, highlight the key considerations and some helpful approaches. 

Learning aims

The course aims to:

  • increase practitioners’ understanding of child mental health and how it is impacted by chronic physical health conditions
  • increase practitioners’ ability to consider the immediate, short- and long-term effects of physical illness on children’s social and emotional wellbeing and mental health
  • motivate practitioners to think about ways they can provide more effective prevention and early intervention to support the social and emotional wellbeing of children who are living with chronic physical conditions; and
  • increase practitioners' ability to consider the impacts on families, including siblings, when a child is affected by a chronic physical condition.


It is estimated that this course will take you approximately 1 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.


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 and is a facet of child development.1

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.2

‘Social and emotional wellbeing’ is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.3


  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. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. (p. 6). Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 
  3. Everymind. (2020). Understanding mental health and wellbeing. Newcastle: Everymind. Available here.

Ready to start learning?

Register today to access.