England.  Change location

Critical perspectives on mental health in society

Qualification dates
Start End

Within this module you’ll explore and critically reflect upon mental health. You'll study the relationship between the lived experiences of individuals, and the society and environment in which they live. The module will introduce you to various models of understanding and critiquing mental health. Although the primary focus will be UK-based, examples from international contexts will be included in order for you to understand the impact that society as a whole can have on mental health.

What you will study

This module is made up of five blocks, each designed to help you understand contemporary issues concerning mental health.
Block 1
The opening block aims to help you get started and provides information for you to refer back to throughout your studies. It is a short but important foundation. You'll explore the terminology that is used in contemporary mental health and will be introduced to concepts that underpin mental health and mental ill health, language which is used throughout this module. You'll also further develop study skills such as taking notes online and dealing with emotive content. Last you'll explore what is meant by lived experience, a perspective which underpins this module in which people have been willing to share their real-life experiences.

Block 2
This block will help you to understand the various models and perspectives that underpin mental health. You'll start with the social model and move into the medical model followed by an exploration of the psychological and spiritual. The block closes with an examination of models when integrated and will allow an opportunity to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each. This block is slightly longer than block 1 and is a good basis for understanding different approaches to mental health.

Block 3
This block considers the challenges associated with mental health starting with a critique of the perspectives that you explored in block 2. You'll then go on to study challenges that can occur when mental health and physical health occur together building on the terminology and concepts you were introduced to in block 1. Challenges then continue when you consider what it is like to be old and young and how these different periods of a person’s life can impact on mental health. You'll conclude by focussing on challenges through doing, which means exploring areas such as caring and activism.

Block 4
In this block you'll move on to study mental health in terms of concepts and theories, which can be more abstract in their nature but are intended to build on the knowledge you have learned so far, and to consider the impact of them. Topics include poverty, race, gender and sexuality, technology, and global issues through the lens of a legal perspective. You'll be asked to consider what the future may mean for mental health.

Block 5
The final block aims to help you reflect upon the materials you have been studying throughout and to do so from the perspective of lived experience. The intention is for you to have the time to do so and then to prepare for the end-of-module assessment through which you'll be guided by the content.

Entry requirements

There are no entry requirements for this module. This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have the study skills required for both higher education and distance learning, obtained either through OU level 1 study or from equivalent study elsewhere.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

If you are studying for a Health and Social Care qualification, our OU level 1 module Introducing health and social care (K102) is ideal preparation. However, you don’t need any prior knowledge as the study material for this module is designed to be accessible if you are new to this subject.
Whilst there are no preparatory resources that you must read before studying this module, you may wish to look at the book series Foundations of Mental Health Practice, especially the text on Models of Mental Health by Gavin Davidson, Jim Campbell, Ciaran Shannon and Ciarin Mulholland published by Macmillan International in 2019. You may also want to look at the BBC documentary Psychosis and Me which details the experience of the actor David Harewood.

Topics that you may wish to revise include terminology that is used in mental health, perspectives of mental health and lived experience.

What's included

This module uses a wide range of rich online resources, each designed to enable students to learn in a way that suits them. In addition a printed Reader supplements the module and includes a number of short articles exploring various aspects of mental health.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.


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

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K243 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Critical perspectives on mental health in society (K243) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment