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Introduction to mental health science

Updated Friday, 19 July 2019
These free, advanced level courses serve as an introduction to Masters level study in neurosciences and mental health.

This suite of three courses focuses first on anxiety (Exploring anxiety), then depression (Exploring depression), and finally explores the relationship between these conditions (Exploring the relationship between anxiety and depression). They will help you to consider some of the key issues around diagnosis, causes and interventions for anxiety and depression from biological, psychological and social science perspectives.

introduction to mental health science

You will broaden your knowledge and understanding of anxiety and depression, recognise different lines of evidence and appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of current knowledge. You will look at theoretical models, biological and psychological explanations, and explore some of the more contemporary and controversial findings within the field. A mix of structured activities and reflective exercises will help you to think critically about some of the more pressing contemporary questions and controversies:

  • Do anxiety and depression lie along a ‘continuum’ of human emotions?
  • Do culture and societal views matter?
  • How much of mental illness can the biology of the brain explain?
  • Are anxiety and depression simply caused by the stresses and strains of daily living and by life’s events and traumas, and not by genes?
  • Are anxiety and depression more common in women or in men?
  • Is work good or bad for your mental health?
  • Can or should anxiety and depression be ‘cured’?
  • Could psychedelic drugs be used to treat anxiety and depression? 

Mental health conditions directly affect about a quarter of the population in any given year. Depression and anxiety are the most widespread conditions, and often co-occur. Understanding how these conditions develop, their onset, diagnosis, causes and treatments will lead to better interventions, management and support for affected individuals and their families.

This suite of free OpenLearn courses (19 hours of study in total) has been developed from the Open University course S826 Introduction to mental health science (Stage 1 in the Masters in Mental Health Science), and is suitable preparatory reading if you are considering moving on to postgraduate study in this area. The MSc in Mental Health Science (F78) is directly relevant to research and employment in the fields of medical and psychological sciences (neuroscience, psychology, health sciences). It will develop the critical skills and knowledge that are relevant to employment within the health sector, life sciences, medical and related fields, and to inform and strengthen professional practice.

These free courses are adapted extracts from the Open University course S826 Introduction to mental health science.


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