School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Public Health Aspects of Mental Health (PHCM9761)

image - Public Health Aspects of Mental Health


This course provides participants with an overview of public health approaches in mental health. The overall aim of the course is to equip students with the knowledge to understand and interpret key epidemiological data, healthcare systems for people with a mental illness, the interaction between mental health and social and physical health factors, mental health across the lifespan, public health interventions such as preventive healthcare and mental health promotion, and mental health policies. Students will have the opportunity to discuss and explore controversial issues and will draw on their own experiences and those of their peers to understand the practical application of these concepts.

Who should do this course

We welcome students from any discipline and level of experience to contribute their perspectives and understandings and we encourage you to engage with the material, ask questions, discuss relevant issues with your teachers and colleagues, and regard the available literature with a critical eye.

Mode of study

External (Distance).

Course aim

The aim of this course is to provide you with a broad introduction to the contribution of public health approaches to the fields of mental health and wellbeing and help you to develop a methodical approach towards critically analysing and utilising material relevant to the development of mental health services and policies.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the diagnosis and epidemiology of mental illness, including the measurement of incidence, prevalence and burden
  • Discuss the interaction between mental health and social, cultural and environmental determinants of health
  • Identify at-risk populations and discuss primary, secondary and tertiary approaches to the prevention and management of poor mental health
  • Critically evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of management strategies to promote mental wellbeing, including mental health services and policies
  • Critically analyse a mental health problem in a target population and develop a feasible response to promote mental health
Learning and teaching rationale

Class participants come from diverse backgrounds, with varied forms of professional training and experience. Participants come from Australia and a number of other countries. The design of the course aims to ensure that each student is able to use the material practically and apply this in a real-world context. Wherever possible, every effort has been made to cater to the different learning experiences of external students and to optimise learning opportunities within this environment.

Our approach to learning and teaching is based on adult learning principles.  When you are introduced to new material it is expected that as postgraduate students you will be able to integrate prior knowledge, draw on your own experience and formulate new understandings at a theoretical and practical level.  It is expected that you will engage actively with the course material, carefully reflect on the lectures and tutorials, and have meaningful discussions with your online peers to help build your knowledge and appreciation of the diverse contexts in public health principles are applied.

Teaching strategies

This course is designed for students studying in external mode. There is a total of ten modules this term. The modules address different public health aspects of mental health. These applied topics will build upon and consolidate your knowledge from core courses and will complement your learning in other elective courses.


Assessment Task 1 - Characterising a population at risk of poor mental health
Weighting: 15%
Length: 700 words

Assessment Task 2 - Annotated bibliography – mental health interventions evidence check
Weighting: 30%
Length: 2000 words

Assessment Task 3 - Critical reflection
Weighting: 25%
Length: 1000 words

Assessment Task 4 - Participation in online discussion forums
Weighting: 30%


Brown J.S., Learmonth A.M. & Mackereth C.J. Promoting public mental health and wellbeing: Principles into practice. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015.