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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2006

SOC 395j • Sociology of Mental Health

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
47720 T
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
BUR 231

Course Description

This course examines the social causes of mental health. We ask, what are mental health and mental illness, and how can they be measured? We contrast the social view to the medical, psychiatric, and psychological views. We cover these areas: social epidemiology of mental health; social and psychological factors in mental health; and treatment for psychological problems. In looking at social factors in the unequal distribution of mental health, we focus on the following social systems: education, stratification, and inequality; work; gender; neighborhoods; age and the lifecourse; and the family. Social psychological factors in mental health include perceived control over life, mastery, and fatalism, social support, meaning, selfesteem, coping, trust, inequity, and commitment, and flexibility. In looking at the treatment of psychological problems we focus on drug treatment, risks and benefits of treatment, and prevention versus treatment.

We address questions such as these: What role does poverty play in mental health? Why does socioeconomic status affect psychological well-being? Why are men less depressed and anxious than women? How can the stress on working mothers be relieved? At what age is psychological well-being at its optimum? Are prescription drugs a mental health benefit or risk? Are children good for parents' psychological well-being? Does feeling responsible for your failures improve mental health? Do neighborhoods affect residents' levels of trust? Where does a sense of personal control come from?


Social Causes of Psychological Distress, second edition, 2003, by John Mirowsky and Catherine Ross, Aldine de Gruyter.


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