Ethics and Mental Health (BETH5205)

Bioethics Short Courses at the Sydney School of Public Health are open for 2018 registrations. These courses are designed to address the growing interest in the life sciences and biomedical technologies as well as the need for ethics education among researchers and practitioners in health-related fields and disciplines. They provide an innovative, interdisciplinary approach and are an excellent way to add value to an ongoing career.

Students will receive a certificate of attendance but will not be eligible for university credit as the Professional Development course is not assessed.


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

BETH5205 is taught online only.

Prescribed textbook:
Michael Robertson, Garry Walter Ethics and Mental Health: The Patient, Profession and Community CRC Press 2013

Students are required to complete online tasks which aim to consolidate their understanding of a critical component of the week's learning.

Application Deadline

27 July 2018
(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 or more 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 need to complete the online application. You will be able to enter payment details as part of this secure process.

If you would like to apply for a group, please complete the group application form and tax invoice (PDF) and email it to the Bioethics administration team at . This can also be faxed to the Office for Teaching and Learning (details right of screen).

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.


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