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Diverse perspectives on mental health

What causes mental distress and what can be done about it? What aspects of the external environment affect mental health? This module examines how social, environmental, economic and political factors shape and constrain our understandings and experiences of mental health and distress. It explores the wide range of diverse and frequently competing perspectives that characterise the world of mental health and looks at the impact of these perspectives on mental health practice and service provision. The module will appeal to anyone – lay or professional – who seeks greater understanding of this fascinating and complex area of service provision.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

The module is complementary to our other OU level 2 module in mental health, Challenging ideas in mental health (K272). Where K272 focuses on a holistic approach to different dimensions of the individual, K225 places its emphasis on the social. You examine a range of lay, bio-medical, psychological, psychotherapeutic and social perspectives for explaining mental distress and supporting people with mental health problems. You learn from the written and spoken accounts of people who have experienced mental distress.

By the end of the module you should have developed knowledge and understanding of:

  • how social, environmental, economic and political elements shape experiences of mental health and distress, and their implications for ethical and value-based practice
  • the central importance of service users’ perspectives
  • the role of ethics and values in the context of mental health and distress
  • the range and complexity of conflicting and complementary perspectives on mental health and distress
  • the impact of diverse perspectives on mental health practice.

K225 also provides underpinning knowledge and understanding for the Ten Essential Shared Capabilities framework for the mental health workforce.

The module is divided into four study blocks.

Block 1 – Exploring Perspectives introduces the notion that there are very different views about what constitutes mental health and distress, and considers the role of the external environment – in particular social, political, environmental and economic factors – in shaping these views. The impact of labels and language used to describe mental health, and the ways in which cultural factors interact with mental health and distress are discussed, as well as debates on different ways of understanding mental distress.

Block 2 – Social and Ethical Contexts begins by examining the ways in which ethics and values shape and constrain understandings and practice in the world of mental health. The block raises challenging questions about the role of mental health legislation, the impact of ‘place’ on mental wellbeing, and the relationship between mental health and work. Different ways of thinking about gender and sexuality and the ways in which these can help us to appreciate some people’s experiences of mental distress are debated, and the block concludes with a discussion of how families, in their many forms, may experience and/or contribute to mental health and distress.

Block 3 – Understanding Experience The role of medical and physical treatments is examined in the context of mental distress. Problems around the definition and measurement of suicide, the complex relationship between mental distress, criminal behaviour and imprisonment, and the diverse perspectives and dilemmas relating to self-harm are discussed. The unit ends by looking at the contribution of art, culture and creative activities to mental wellbeing.

Block 4 – Perspectives on Practice looks at different types of support, including that provided by friends, relatives and neighbours, and the ways in which service users and professional workers relate to each other. It examines issues around the evaluation of mental health services, with particular emphasis on the concept of quality, and explores user involvement in service provision. Different approaches to mental health promotion are discussed. The concluding unit provides an opportunity to consolidate and revise what you’ve learnt throughout the module.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 when it will be available for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have some knowledge of health and social care and a readiness to study at this level, obtained either through OU level 1 study (our module An introduction to health and social care (K101) would be ideal preparation) or by doing equivalent work at another university.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

You will receive guidance of how to get started online in your first module mailing. This will provide you with information on using your computer for OU study and working with the Computing Guide. For example, it explains how to access and use your website and online discussion forums. If you have time before the module starts, you can work through this and explore all the online services available to you.


Start End England fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015 £1316.00

Registration closes 18/09/14 (places subject to availability)


The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your annual fees and spreads them out over up to a year, enabling you to pay your fees monthly and walk away with a qualification without any further debt. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. You may, for example wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser.

Note: Your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is based upon current details for  year 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015.
This information was provided on 18/09/2014.

What's included

Study books, other printed materials, CDs and DVD. You will have access to a website through which teaching and library resources are available. Electronic versions of most of the printed study materials are provided on the website.

You will need

A DVD player and a CD player.

The audio-visual components of this module are delivered on a DVD that will play on a standard DVD player and television. If you want to view this on a computer, it will need a DVD-ROM drive and software for viewing DVDs.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Reynolds, J, et al. (ed) Mental Health Still Matters Palgrave Macmillan £26.99 - ISBN 9780230577299

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.