In today’s world, mental illness and distress are common and these account for a significant burden of disability within our community. At the same time, there is a growing interest in understanding and enhancing positive mental health and wellbeing; particularly from developments in the fields of positive psychology and mental health promotion. Positive Psychiatry is a new term (Jeste et al 2016) that describes a dual approach to mental health, where we build strengths, supports and healthy lifestyles as well as treating illness and distress.
In this course, we will explore different aspects of good mental health as well as provide an overview of the major kinds of mental disorders, their causes, treatments and how to seek help and support. The course will feature a large number of Australian experts in psychiatry, psychology and mental health research, and we will also hear from “lived experience experts”, people who have lived with mental illness, and share their personal stories of recovery.
We take an evidence-based approach to a range of strategies that anyone can use to enhance their own mental health and that of others, from exercise and relaxation techniques through to the role of love, relationships and ‘good’ types of work. We cover topics from creativity and yoga through to psychiatric medications and psychotherapies.
This course is designed for anyone with an interest in psychiatry and mental health. It may be particularly helpful if you have struggled with illness, cared for a family member or friend, or work in a related field and would like to know more about how to assist people.
Module 1 – Positive mental health and Psychiatry
Welcome to the MOOC! Get yourself acquainted. This module is about positive mental health, stress and recovery, and some of the important findings from Aristotle through to recent research on the correlates to happiness.
Module 2 – Body and Mind
This module is about the body and mind. We will learn about the central importance of physical health and lifestyle, and how exercise can be used as an evidence-based treatment for common mental health conditions. We will cover basic relaxation and mindfulness strategies, as well as personality strengths, and how to identify your own strengths.
Graded: Assessment 1 – Goal setting exercise
Module 3 – Love and Work
Mental health has sometimes been described simply as the capacity to love and to work. Psychiatry still uses similar concepts today. In this module, we talk about love and work, and introduce the complementary ideas of rest and play. We hear about attachment theory, social connections and the ancient wisdom of Australian Aboriginal views on wellbeing. We discuss the importance of contributing and here you find out whether or not work is good for you.
Graded: Assessment 2 – Reflections on Love and Work
Module 4 – Mental Illness
In this module, we cover the major categories of mental illness: their symptoms, causes and treatments. This includes the more common conditions such as anxiety, depression and addictions, as well as less common mental illnesses such as psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Graded: Assessment 3 – Take-home messages
Module 5 – Paths to Recovery
In this module, we will detail some of the many paths to recovery. From early intervention through the philosophy of personal recovery, consumer support networks, creative arts as therapy as well as spiritual and religious practices.
Graded: Assessment 4 – Post-course knowledge test
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