The overall aim of the course is to equip students with:  

  • the knowledge to understand and interpret key epidemiological data 
  • the interaction between mental health and social, physical and environmental determinants of health 
  • public health interventions such as preventive healthcare and mental health promotion 
  • the importance of lived experience.  

Students will have the opportunity to discuss and explore key issues, develop their critical thinking, and draw on their own experiences and those of their peers to understand the practical application of these concepts. This course is enriched by the partnership between the School of Population Health and the Black Dog Institute

Mode of study

External (distance) only.

Key contact

Dr Patricia Cullen 
Course Convenor 
+61 (2) 410 591 180


Who should do this course?

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

Course outcomes

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 using material relevant to the development and implementation of mental health prevention and promotion programs. 

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 
  • understand the impacts of stigma and inequity on mental health and access to services 
  • discuss prevention and health promotion practices to improve mental health and wellbeing for diverse populations 
  • critically evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of population health strategies to promote mental wellbeing, including mental health services and/or policies 
  • critically analyse a mental health problem in a target population and develop a feasible response to promote mental health.  

Learning & teaching

Class participants come from diverse backgrounds, from Australia and overseas, with varied forms of professional training and experience. The design of this course aims to ensure that each student can apply the material practically, 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 you will be able to integrate prior knowledge, draw on your own experience and formulate new understandings at a theoretical and practical level. 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 which public health principles are applied. 

This course is designed for students studying in internal and external mode, with a total of 10 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, complementing your learning in other elective courses. The assessment tasks have a practical focus and are scaffolded to provide opportunities to consolidate the skills required to complete the final assignment. These assessments will help you identify the characteristics of a target population and promote critical thinking regarding mental health interventions and devising feasible responses. 


Assessment Task 1 – Characterising a population at risk of poor mental health 
Weighting: 15% 
Length: 600 words / 10 slides 

Assessment Task 2 – Annotated bibliography: mental health interventions evidence check 
Weighting: 40% 
Length: 1800 words 

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

Assessment Task 4 – Participation in online discussion forums 
Weighting: 20% 
Length: 500 words per forum (x2 forums)

Readings & resources 

Learning resources for this course consist of the following: 

  • lectures, including podcasts 
  • webinars 
  • weekly readings and content 
  • the Moodle (online learning) component, including padlet-based discussions.