What you will study
This module comprises four study blocks:
Block 1 introduces the notion that there are very different views about what constitutes mental health distress and considers the role of the external environment – in particular social, environmental, economic and political factors – in shaping these views. It examines different ways of understanding mental distress, stressing the point that in order to understand current policies and practice it is necessary to look back at the social and historical context that informed them. You will also explore the similarities and differences between physical and learning disability and mental health, and the relationship between the mind, the body and the brain.
Block 2 looks at the way in which families, in their many forms, may experience and/or contribute to mental health and distress. The impact of ‘place’ and community, including social networks, on mental wellbeing, and the different types of ‘everyday’ support (for example that provided by friends, relatives and neighbours), are explored. This block concludes by evaluating our understandings of mental health in relation to the needs of children and young people.
Block 3 considers the influence of a range of societal factors that impact on mental health and distress. The impact of labelling and stigma on those who have been diagnosed as mentally ill, the role of advocacy in the context of mental health, the ways in which cultural factors interact with mental health and distress, and different ways of thinking about gender and sexuality are discussed. This block ends by looking at the complex relationship between mental distress, criminal behaviour and imprisonment.
Block 4 explores a range of economic and political factors that affect mental wellbeing. It raises challenging questions about the relationship between work and mental health, the role of mental health legislation, and the different approaches to mental health promotion. The evidence for and against the use of drugs to treat mental distress is explored, alongside the controversial role of the pharmaceutical industry. This block concludes with an opportunity to consolidate and revise what you’ve learnt throughout the module.
You will learn
This module provides you with insight into the contemporary context in which mental health care takes place and will help you to understand the issues faced by service users and service providers within this context. Specifically, the module encourages you to:
- develop knowledge and understanding of how the experience of mental health problems affects and is affected by living within a community
- recognise the value and limitations of accounts of personal experience of mental distress and of different responses to it
- explore the impact of service users’ experiences on mental health policy and practice.