Sociology | Mental Illness
S324 | 20301-20302 | Pavalko

Public health officials estimate that four out of the ten leading
causes of disability are due to mental illnesses and that nearly one
out of five Americans will experience a mental disorder this year. In
the U.S. and abroad, antidepressants and other drugs for mental
disorders are among the most heavily prescribed of all drugs.  Despite
their common occurrence and devastating impact on individuals and
society, as a society, our treatment of these disorders remains
controversial and misunderstood.  Individuals experiencing a mental
disorder must not only deal with the disorder itself, but also the
stigma and public reaction to mental illness.

This course will critically examine the social dimensions of mental
illness through four levels of analysis. First, we will examine mental
illness at the individual level, focusing on the definition, diagnosis
and prevalence of mental illness.  Second, we will examine societal
and group reactions to mental illness, including attention to current
public attitudes and implications of stigma about mental illness.  The
third section will examine programs for treating mental illness and
explore both the dangers and promise of different treatment options.
The final section will examine societal issues related to mental
health treatment including legal issues and how that relates to social
problems such as homelessness and the insanity defense, and health
insurance and how we pay for mental health care.