SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHC825426
Module Leader Josie Williams
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Psychology
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Successful completion of Applying Clinical, Forensic and Counselling Psychology at L2 (or equivalent)

Summary of Content

This module will examine the theoretical models of mental distress and the ethical considerations of assessment and diagnosis. Cross cultural issues in relation to presentation and understanding of mental distress are addressed and the important major syndromes are examined including the mood and anxiety disorders. Links with substance use and misuse (prescribed and non-prescribed) across the mental health spectrum. Three important considerations addressed are: What constitutes good mental health; The cultural context of diagnosis; The continuum approach to mental health and wellbeing;


Broadly, this will cover the following, though it should be noted that some fluidity would be appreciated to allow for the (possible) inclusion of "hot" topics as they arise, and the (possible) removal of others. Historical overview of concepts of mental distress. Current explanatory models ? medical, social, behavioural and existential. Definitions of good mental health; conceptualization and measurement of wellbeing and what it is to have positive mental health. Psycho diagnosis ? observation, interviewing, testing, and the practical and ethical problems involved. Organic, psychological and social?cultural aetiology of psychological distress. An analysis of the impact of culture on contemporary issues in mental health. Classification and description of the major disorders as described in ICD?10 and DSM 5. The role of medical and extra-medical substance use/misuse across the mental health continuum. Major problems selected for special study will include ? the anxiety disorders, the mood disorders, schizophrenia and the disorders in childhood and old age. The new discourses in mental health of recovery, spirituality and well?being.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, the student should be able to:-1. Understand the relevance of key historical developments in the psychology of mental health to issues in contemporary psychology (assessed by examination) 2. Demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues inherent in assessment, diagnosis and labelling (assessed by essay) 3. A critical awareness of the basic assumptions underlying various theoretical perspectives of mental distress (assessed by essay) 4. A critical understanding of the cultural and political aspects inherent within the mental health system (assessed by essay)

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Regular programme of lectures and seminars: 10 x 2 hour lectures and 6 x 1 hour seminars. Seminars consist of group discussion based on independent research/group debate. Additional classes will provide formative support to aid the preparation of coursework. On line support through GCULearn. All lecture presentations/podcasts and additional materials posted on GCULearn. Individual meetings with module lead and tutors provided on request. Formative assessment will be included in this module.

Indicative Reading

Bentall, R.P (2003) Madness Explained. Psychosis and Human Nature, Penguin Cromby, J., Harper, D., & Reavey, P. (2013) Psychology, Mental Health & Distress, Palgrave, MacMillan Nolen?Hoeksema, S (2010), Abnormal Psychology, McGraw?Hill Higher Education, New York. Oltmanns, T.F., Martin, M., Neale, J. & Davison, G., (2009) Case Studies in Abnormal Psychology, 8th Ed, Wiley Scull, A. (2016) Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine. Thames and Hudson, London.

Transferrable Skills

1. Critical evaluation of psychological theories and empirical studies. 2. The development of evaluative skills with regards to key critical issues in these core areas. 3. An understanding of the key issues in each of these fields and an appreciation for real world application. 4. Responsibility for independent learning with regard to key issues covered during lectures and seminars. 5. Increased competence in task, time and information management.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 20.00
Independent Learning (FT) 142.00
Assessment (FT) 30.00
Tutorials (FT) 2.00
Seminars (FT) 6.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 50.00 35% Essay (2000 words)
Exam (Exams Office) 2.00 50.00 35% 2 Hour unseen examination