The idea of a World Mental Day was introduced in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health and is now promoted annually and celebrated on the 10th October. It was initiated because of the felt need to promote education about mental health and break down the stigma that so often attaches to mental ill-health.
The idea of a University Mental Health Day #UMHD18 was initiated to highlight issues of mental health amongst students. University counselling services have been reporting considerable increases in the numbers of students asking for support for a number of years.
Psychology and Mental Health at the OU
We know that students are often drawn to studying Psychology because they have an interest in issues of mental health and illness. However, the study of Psychology at university includes an array of topics, that whilst fascinating in themselves, may not relate that directly to issues of mental health. At The Open University the links between the academic study of psychology and issues of mental health and their treatment are taken very seriously. We even offer a degree in Psychology with Counselling. There is a degree called Forensic Psychology (that is concerned with the use of psychology in connection to issues of crime). Both of these degrees include accreditation by the British Psychology Society but bring a particular focus onto issues of psychological distress and disorder. We have recently developed a new module called Counselling and Forensic Psychology: Investigating Crime and Therapy.
We also have strong research teams in all of these areas. There is a proud tradition at the OU of psychosocial research that assumes that psychological states are always linked to social circumstances and that the knowledge gained in the world of psychological practice can add enormous value to our research. A number of our staff work as therapists and counsellors and bring expertise in practice to their research work. Professor Darren Langdridge works as an existential psychotherapist and brings this perspective to his research on sexualities and identities. Dr M-J Barker works as a psychotherapist and writes and researches on contemporary debates about the relationship between sexuality, gender and identity. Dr Naomi Moller and Dr Andreas Vossler both work as counsellors and have various research interests including in ‘infidelity’.
Work in the OU School of Psychology also explores difficult questions about the links between issues of mental and criminal justice. Dr David W Jones has developed a psychosocial approach to understanding criminal behaviour and in particular the kinds of diagnoses that have been used to understand dangerous and violent behaviour.
A short free course is available on ‘The role of diagnosis in counselling and psychotherapy’.