Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Mental Health and Human Rights
Academic Year
Distance Learning

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Other Private study on DL units; Preparation and submission of written assignment; Additional research and private study


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Module Assessment  Written Assignment of 5,000 words  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an appreciation of the complexities that surround society's need for protection and the individual's right to treatment and liberty.
2. Identify and assess the main types of mental illness and the relative risk to others.
3. Critically evaluate the prospects for, and limitations of, treating the mentally ill.
4. Demonstrate an appreciation of the public and political attitudes to those with mental health issues and present critical argument on these issues.
5. Demonstrate an understanding of historical developments and analyse the cultural differences in the treatment of the mentally ill.

Brief description

In today's `risk-averse' society we are moving away from medical models of mental health. Although issues surrounding mental health have received greater exposure in recent years, there is still a level of ignorance about the relative danger posed by those with psychological problems and the options available for treatment. This module will address whether the human rights of these individuals are being compromised by the increased willingness to criminalise and imprison many individuals with mental health issues.

The module will provide an overview of mental health legislation and the methods used historically to contain and treat the mentally ill. Contrasting these developments with wider international perspectives on the issues surrounding those with mental health problems will provide a context to appreciate the need to protect society whilst also treating those with problem behaviours with respect and dignity.


The module will address the issues of human rights in relation to the mentally ill by using both historical and international perspectives. In particular it will focus upon:
- The Mental Health Acts.
- A history of the treatment of the mentally ill with a particular focus on the closure of the asylums/care in the community and also the criminalization of increasing numbers of individuals with mental health problems.
- The assessment and categorization of mental health and the development and evaluation of risk - focusing on whether assessment and/or treatment are for the benefit of the individual or society.
- Comprehensive discussion on issues relating to the human rights of the mentally ill, specifically, indefinite detention for public protection, forced treatment and medication, and social exclusion.
- A review of current practice, with an emphasis on the future agenda for dealing with the mentally ill, an assessment of initiatives overseas, and the role of the criminal justice system in dealing with vulnerable populations.


This module is at CQFW Level 7