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Online Courses in Mental Health: Course Descriptions

Students and working professionals may enroll in online mental health courses, which are available through many colleges and universities. Many of these courses can be taken completely online, while others may require some on-campus instruction or clinical work.

Online Mental Health Courses

Overviews of some commonly offered online mental health courses are provided below.

  • Sociology of Mental Health Course: This class explores major sociological theories and research that inform social conceptions of mental health and illness. Students investigate processes of defining mental health and examine how social definitions negotiate health and illness experiences for patients, providers and communities. Historical perceptions of mental health form an essential course component, with an emphasis on how these perceptions influence mental illness treatment protocols.
  • Mental Health of Children and Young Adults Course: Lessons cover how to intervene when children and young adults demonstrate symptoms of mental health conditions. Students in this class explore how education professionals like psychologists, nurses and social workers can work together supporting children and young adults affected by mental disorders. Typical characteristics of common disorders are discussed. Students will also talk about the role of families and school staff in the context of mental health issues common to youth.
  • Mental Health in the Classroom Course: Mental health practitioners working in school settings discuss how best to identify and assist students needing mental health help for conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bullying and anger management. Learners focus on tools they can use to help students achieve satisfactory academic and social performance in school.
  • Crisis Intervention in Mental Health Counseling Course: This course helps students be able to identify, process, and resolve crises in new and long-term patients. The course includes important aspects like establishing a rapport, assessing threat of danger, disaster management, goals and performance indicators, and teaching coping skills.
  • Multicultural Approaches to Mental Health Course: Students discuss mental health as it pertains to ethnic identity, gender and social class. Oppressive social factors that may contribute to mental health concerns, including racism, ageism and sexism are examined. Students navigate how to work with individuals in unique cultural contexts, including appropriate diagnoses, assessments and interventions.
  • Diagnosis in Mental Health Course: This course walks students through the stages of mental health problems, from causes to diagnosis and treatment. Students will study the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to learn definitions, descriptions and symptoms of various mental illnesses. Students will also learn how to conduct assessments of mental health to aid in diagnosis.
  • Ethics in Mental Health Course: Professionals must be able to define clear boundaries in their relationships with patients. The course also includes issues of informed consent, patient confidentiality, as well as laws regarding mandated reporting and insurance.

Program Information

Online courses in mental health may be part of bachelor's degree, master's degree or post-master's certificate programs in psychology, sociology or educational psychology. Graduates of online mental health degree and certificate programs often work in hospitals, residential treatment facilities, schools or mental health offices. Professions related to mental health, like counseling and psychology, may have licensure requirements. Online courses can help students meet some of these requirements, but in-person clinical experience is a critical component of the licensure process.

Many accredited universities and online colleges offer robust degree and certificate programs in mental health with electives in addition to required courses. The courses include general ideas such as sociology and diagnoses, as well as specific issues such as mental health issues in the classroom and crisis intervention.

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