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SOC 123D: Mental Health from Crisis to Construction

Mental health is an increasingly hot topic in the media. Why are high school and college students struggling with more and more mental health issues? Why are rates of depression and anxiety increasing? What is the role of social media? How can people cope with the psychological consequences of a multi-year pandemic? These conversations often culminate in the belief that there is a 'mental health crisis' plaguing the 21st century. But mental health, like other social phenomena, is not experienced in a vacuum. How does social context shape individuals' psychological experience? How might sociologists think about the idea of a mental health crisis? This course will provide an introduction to the sociology of mental health and will give you the tools to think critically about narratives around wellbeing that you may hear in your own lives. You will learn how the line between health and illness ('normal' and 'crazy') is socially constructed, how social context influences subjective experience, and how people's responses to subjective experience can change (and have changed) over time. We will also delve into demographic patterns in mental health experiences and discuss the social stigma that surrounds mental illness, mental health treatment, and diagnosis. Throughout the course, we will discuss contemporary issues around mental health - such as social media and the COVID-19 pandemic - using our sociological lens to offer explanations and insights. You will learn through reading scientific articles and books, class discussions, group work, and an independent final project that will be presented to the class at the end of the term.
Last offered: Summer 2022 | UG Reqs: WAY-SI
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