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.