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

Fall 2009

SOC 321K • Contemporary Issues in Society

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46495 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
BUR 134

Course Description

What are the social causes of psychological well-being and distress? What are mental health and mental illness, and how can they be measured? We contrast the social view with the medical, psychiatric, and psychological views. We examine the social epidemiology of mental health and the social and psychological factors in mental health. 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, self-esteem, coping, trust, inequity, and commitment, and flexibility. We contrast prevention with treatment in the creating and maintaining mental health.

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?


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