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Module NHS-3201:
Mental health & Society

Module Facts

Run by School of Health Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Mr Russell Jones

Overall aims and purpose

This module will introduce students to the main sociological and psychiatric perspectives on mental health and illness. The role of the mental health professions and the changing role of psychiatry will be studied, alongside other associated mental health professions and practitioners. Students will also study the social patterning of mental health and illness, and consider variations according to age, gender, social class and ethnicity.

Attention will also be paid to those experiencing mental illness, and the role and influence of representative user groups on mental health policy and legislation will be critically appraised. The module aims to show how our knowledge and understanding of mental illness have changed over time, as well as indicate the problematic nature of the definition of mental illness.

This module will also compare formative models of treatment and recovery in the UK with other historical and geographical approaches to mental health and illness, in order to provide a globalised context.

Course content

The programe content will be determined by students' own interests, identified in the first session in Week 5. The programme will thus be developed to cover topics suggested by the class and will address these in themed sessions along the following lines:

The social patterning of mental illness, according to social class, age, gender and ethnicity.

The historical and contemporary organisation of psychiatry, its professional power and governmentality.

Anti-psychiatric and lay perspectives on mental health, service-user movements and patient power.

Current policy issues, debates and service structures.

Social stress theories.

Dual diagnosis: mental health & addictions.

Trauma and the impact of life events.

Assessment Criteria


• Analyse the key sociological perspectives on mental health and illness; • Critically discuss the social patterning of mental illness, providing evidence of variations, and providing a reasoned and balanced explanatory framework; • Provide a comprehensive account of the changing structure of the mental health services, and a critical analysis of the changes; • Evaluate the role of professionals in psychiatry and provide an analysis of the role of patients and user groups; • Demonstrate a significant level of empathy and objectivity in addressing sensitive topics relating to vulnerable groups.


• Offer an incisive analysis of current policy debates and treatment paradigms; • Present a sophisticated and holistic description of the impact of a mental illness on the lives of individuals; • Plan, prepare and produce a comprehensive and structured report to the standard of a high-quality undergraduate dissertation; • Use creative and intelligent resources to add description and context to the written body of the report; • Critique the perspectives and service settings which have formative impacts on the assessment, treatment and support for individuals with complex needs.


• Acquire a critical awareness of the ‘social construction’ of mental illness; • Provide evidence of understanding of the diversity of mental health service users, and demonstrate the ability to interpret evidence, and to recognise the occasional ambiguity of evidence; • Identify and critically evaluate policies, treatments and services that diagnose, treat and support people living with mental illness; • Explore the validity of prevailing approaches and the ways in which patients and service users respond to them; • Utilise a range of mixed methods to establish patterns and to understand both the acute and chronic experiences of those affected by your chosen illness or disorder.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the social organisation of psychiatry, and of the major changes which have taken place since the closure of the large institutions.

  2. Critically analyse the evidence for how the experience of, and interventions for, a specific mental illness impact on those who are affected by it.

  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the main theoretical approaches to understanding the nature, prevalence and impact of mental illness.

  4. Demonstrate empathy for those who experience mental illness and recognise its impact on a range of social roles and settings.

  5. Compare professional and lay perspectives on mental illness.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
WRITTEN PLAN Proposal for Non-Scientific Report

ASSIGNMENT 1: A Report Proposal, of 400 words (Learning Outcomes 1-5)

• A 400 word summary proposal that describes an individually chosen mental health topic and an associated social group. This can be submitted at any time up to deadline and each student will receive electronic feedback on their proposal order to proceed with the report. Therefore, the sooner a proposal is suggested, negotiated and submitted the more preparation and research time there will be for the production of the report.

This proposal carries 40% of the Module Assessment weighting and is due not later than Friday 8th November 2019.

REPORT Non-Scientific Report

ASSIGNMENT 2: A Non-scientific Report of 4,000 words. (Learning Outcomes 1-5).

This report, researched and produced over the course of the 12-week programme, should identify a specific mental health issue, or condition, and present a comprehensive and creative account of how this affects a chosen social group. The report’s contents will also include a critical account of how treatment paradigms, services and support mechanisms are involved in the process of diagnosing, treating and supporting the recovery of individuals by meeting their diverse needs.

The main body of the portfolio will be 4,000 words in length. Tables, images and appendices to the main body will not be included in the word count, but the quality, diversity and references to these will be taken into account in the marking process. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be required.

An example of a high-quality (First Class standard) report will be provided on Blackboard, to show style, format and how the subject can be addressed in a comprehensive and successful piece of work.

The report will account for 60% of the module assessment and will be submitted at the end of the module programme, on a date to be confirmed.



Teaching and Learning Strategy

Individual Project 30

Weekly classes will consist of a 2-hour combined session. Lectures and seminars will take place in the same session, with class and small group activities and discussions throughout the programme.

Week 1: This first session will introduce the Module but -more importantly - be used to generate a list of student-led questions about diverse mental health topics. This list of questions will be used to construct the lecture and workshop activities for Weeks 2-12. A Programme Schedule will therefore be posted on Blackboard for Week 2 onwards but the ordering of the topics will be flexible, and will be driven by the subjects being researched in the Report assignment. For example, if significant numbers of students propose to study the mental health of prison populations, then this topic will be covered earlier on the Semester, to encourage access to adequate resources and texts.

Private study

There will be significant independent study on this Module, as students select and research their own specific topics in the Report assignment. There is also a diverse and comprehensive electronic Reading List and students will be expected to engage with this for their own reports as well as wider subject studies.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others


Talis Reading list

Reading list

These are drawn from both the Talis Electronic Reading List but also ongoing research into chosen themes. Examples are:

Mental Health in The Guardian

MIND – How to Report on Mental Health

Psychiatric Times – Online Journal and Resources

Beyond Blue – Online Australian Support Website

Courses including this module