BSc Psychology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Foundations in Mental Health & Distress

Course unit fact file
Unit code PSYC11412
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Division of Psychology and Mental Health
Available as a free choice unit? No


This is an introductory unit to the study of mental health and distress. It will cover historical and contemporary perspectives on classification and treatment of mental (ill) health and examine the interplay between social, psychological and biological factors in the genesis and maintenance of mental distress.



This unit aims to:

Introduce students to fundamental questions about the nature and experience of mental distress; Critically evaluate the validity of a medical model approach to classification and treatment of mental distress; Provide an introduction to evidence-based treatment modalities and their therapeutic targets in the management of mental distress; Develop key transferable skills in critical and analytical thinking, reflectivity, writing skills, communication and personal development.

Teaching and learning methods

This unit will be taught via lectures and lab classes.

Supplementary reading and resources, and a monitored discussion board will be provided via Blackboard.


Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the  underpinnings and dominant models of mental health and distress; Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of methods used in the assessment and classification of mental health and distress; Describe key factors across the bio-psycho-social spectrum involved in the genesis and maintenance of mental distress; Describe the nature of interaction between social, psychological and biological factors in bringing about mental distress; Demonstrate an understanding and knowledge of different treatment modalities (e.g. pharmacotherapies, psychotherapies) used to alleviate mental distress

Intellectual skills

Critically evaluate dominant medical model approaches to classification and treatment of mental distress; Consider ways through which psychological, social and biological factors may interact to influence mental health; Develop foundational skills in critical thinking and the ability to critique theories and methodologies used for researching mental health and wellbeing

Practical skills

Appraise empirical data; Summarise and communicate relevant clinical and research knowledge relevant to the topics covered in the lecture series

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Present information, ideas and arguments in written form with due regard to the target audience and discipline conventions; Sustain and develop cogent and coherent argument; Work in a group to solve problems

Assessment methods

Exam - 100%

Feedback methods


Recommended reading

Key selected chapters from:

Cromby, Harper & Reavey (2013). Psychology, mental health and distress. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Additional digitised chapters, video links, podcasts and contemporary expert-led articles will also be made available on Blackboard



Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 82

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Filippo Varese Unit coordinator

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