“Mental health and mental illness used to be something that people didn’t talk about, but now it seems every time we open a newspaper we are hearing about the importance of mental health, or the consequences of mental illness. At this point in our history we understand mental illness and mental health to be largely influenced by biological factors, specifically, workings of the brain. At the same time, we have always known that social factors play a very strong role in promoting mental health and can make big differences in who gets mentally ill, who gets treated for mental illness, and how people can achieve good quality of life after a mental health diagnosis.
This course is an opportunity to explore how social practices and ideas contribute to the ways in which society, families and individuals are affected by mental health and mental illness. We will look at issues like why some people think mental illness is a myth, how people think about mental health and illness in different cultures, who gets mentally ill and why, how families are affected by mental illness and what interventions are available to treat mental illness and promote mental health.
Charmaine Williams is a registered social worker, an Associate Professor and the Associate Dean Academic at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. She has been practicing in hospital-based and community-based mental health for twenty years and she teaches courses in the areas of mental health, direct practice, social justice and diversity. Dr. Williams’s program of research includes study of the experiences of individuals and families living with mental illness and access to mental health care services for marginalized populations. Current projects are looking at life after diagnosis for people diagnosed with schizophrenia and mental health, access to mental health care for lesbian, bisexual and transgendered women, and mental health and human rights consequences of living under conditions of LGBT-based discrimination.”