Ethics and Mental Health (BETH5205)


Mental health and mental illness are unique in the field of health care and bioethics. The very nature of psychiatric disorder and its relationship with prevailing social and cultural factors, in addition to the unique status of the mental health patient, necessitate and specific discourse in biomedical ethics in the area of mental health. This course will provide participants with a broad perspective of issues in bioethics applied to mental health and mental illness. Students will examine the history of the psychiatric profession and consider the adequacy of current safeguards against the abuses of power seen in the history of the profession of psychiatry.

Other areas considered include the current ethical dilemmas in mental health care, the implications of technological advances in the neurosciences, the philosophical basis of the concept of mental disorder, the relationship between power and the psychiatric profession and the complex relationship between morality, mental health and the law. The course aspires to inform future decision makers in the health, public policy, clinical settings and academia in the unique aspects of biomedical ethics in the field of mental health.


Effective involvement in this course will enable students to:

  • Understand the uniqueness of mental health care and the distinct vulnerability of people suffering mental illness
  • Understand the social construction of mental health and mental illness
  • Describe the values implicit in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment
  • Comprehend relevant legal and social policy constructs in relation to mental illness
  • Appreciate the specific concerns of mental health problems in particular groups including children, the elderly, non-Western backgrounds and female gender.

Instructional Format

3 x 8hr intensives or distance learning

There is no prescribed textbook, students may be supplied with citations to find themselves. Students are required to complete online tasks which aim to consolidate their understanding of a critical component of the week's learning.


Monday 10 August 2015
Monday 24 August 2015
Monday 21 September 2015

Lectures will also be recorded and will be made available on the course’s eLearning website.


Venue: TBC
Held at the University of Sydney, Camperdown.

Application Deadline

30th July
(late applications may be considered)

Course Fee

$1,100 (including GST)

For a group of participants from the same institution or organization, the following discounts will apply:

  • 3-4 participants: 10% discount

The University's tuition fees are reviewed annually and may be varied during the period of study. The exact tuition fee may depend on the specific units of study in which you enrol.

Application Form

Applicants wanting to undertake the Ethics and Mental Health short course offered by the Sydney School of Public Health need to complete the application form and tax invoice (PDF).

If you would like to apply for a group, please complete the group application form and tax invoice (PDF).

If you are a University of Sydney staff member and would like to apply please contact the Office for Teaching and Learning regarding a journal transfer after you have submitted your application form.

Please either fax or post the application form with payment to:

Office for Teaching and Learning
Sydney School of Public Health
Room 329, Level 3
Edward Ford Building (A27)
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006

Tel: +61 2 9351 4366
Fax: +61 2 9036 6247

More Information

Please contact