Sociology of Mental Health - SO532

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Autumn 6 15 (7.5) DR B Geiger checkmark-circle


This module introduces students to the sociological approach to understanding and critiquing mental health. It begins by outlining historical definitions of mental health and how policy and practice have changed over time from incarceration in large institutions to present-day community care. Sociological perspectives of mental illness (for example, labelling and social causations of mental ill-health) are considered alongside psychiatric and psychological approaches to treating people with mental illnesses. The module then looks at social inequalities in relation to opportunities to recover, including gender and race, as well as other 'actors' within the field such as carers).Mental health and the criminal justice system as well as religion/spirituality are also explored. Please note, as this is not a clinical module material covered will not include in-depth investigations of specific diagnoses of mental illnesses


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Contact hours: 22.
Private Study 128

Method of assessment

Students submit one Poster worth 25% of the marks presenting and interpreting relevant quantitative evidence on their pending chosen essay topic. Plus, one 2,500 word essay for 75% of the course mark.

Indicative reading

PPilgrim, D. (2017) Key Concepts in Mental Health. 2nd edition or 4th edition, Los Angeles, Sage
A. Rogers & D. Pilgrim (2014) A Sociology of Mental Health & Illness Pilgrim, D. (2017) Key Concepts in Mental Health. 2nd edition or 4th edition, Los Angeles, Sage
Blastland, M. & Dilnot, M. (2009) The Tiger That Isn't, London, Profile Books

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Will have a sound understanding of the current sociology and social policy of mental health including knowledge that is at the forefront of debates around the contribution of sociology to the mental health field.
Will have a critical awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to mental health and comment on the complexities surrounding the relationship between different paradigms of the aetiology of mental health.
Will be able to critically assess the social inequalities of e.g. social class, gender, race and additional ways in which society disables individuals with mental health problems including stigma
Will be able to interpret and critique quantitative evidence relevant to the issue of mental health (including on the prevalence of mental health issues and the inequalities referenced in 8.3) and be able to draw appropriate conclusions based on incomplete data/information/knowledge.
Will understand the complex relationship between mental health and other institutions e.g. the criminal justice system, religion/spirituality and critique this
Will have a deep understanding of the sociology of involving mental health users and others e.g. carers in mental health provision


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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