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  • Discipline(s): Psychology
  • Available: Fall Semester 2024 Spring Semester 2025
  • Course Type: Standard Courses
  • Taught in: English
  • Course Fee: None
  • Credits: 3
  • Course Travel: No

PSYC 315 - Pathways to Wellness: Exploring Mental Health, Diagnosis, and Clinical Interventions (Psychopathology)

Course description

Mental illness affects one in five Americans at some point in their life. The burden of disease economically and personally is significant. Since the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a significant rise in mental illness affecting adolescents. We will discuss the epidemiology of mental illness in general and then look more specifically at some of the various different DSM-5 diagnoses.

This course considers how clinicians define a disorder, and explains how types of psychopathology manifest and affect individuals. We will learn about causes and risk factors for mental illness, treatments available and the ethical and legal issues around mental health problems and their clinical management. Throughout the semester we will examine in detail a wide range of pathological conditions: mood disorders, trauma, addictions, personality disorders and psychosis from both a clinical and lived experience perspective.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

    1. Explain the integrative biopsychosocial approach to mental illness which acknowledges that biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors interact in developing and managing any mental illness. Distinguish between risk factors and causes of abnormal behavior.
    2. List the main advantages/disadvantages of using a worldwide coding of psychopathologies and how the DSM is used in diagnosing these. 
    3. Articulate the clinical presentation of the main psychiatric pathologies, using DSM 5 criteria.
    4. Understand cross-cultural differences in defining abnormal psychology, and describe the historical and current differences in treatments between Italy and the United States.
    5. Explain the complexity and importance of research into the causes and treatment of psychological disorders.
  • Explain the role that stigma has played (and continues to play) in the field of mental health. Recognize some common stigmatizing attitudes and describe the impact that stigma has on hindering access to treatment as well as on exacerbating the overall mental health of the person.