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This content is taken from the University of Liverpool's online course, Beyond Diagnosis: Is Psychiatric Diagnosis helpful?. Join the course to learn more.
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Different ways to learn

Welcome to the course.

We have deliberately structured this course to encourage learning. You will be given papers to read that will stretch and challenge your understanding of the fundamental nature of mental health problems. We will offer some guidance and explain the context to the reading materials (in videos and the captions to course articles), but we are deliberately not giving too many facts or even that much information. Instead, we would like you to read the articles and papers that are supplied, consider what they say, and make up your own mind.


In mental health, perhaps more than any other area of science, there are huge differences of opinion. The debate around psychiatric diagnosis is important; people differ profoundly in respect to how important and helpful, or unhelpful and damaging, they think diagnoses are in mental health.

It’s not really the business of a University to tell you what to think, but we can help you learn how to think. We should help you find, and then think about, the most important scientific and professional articles published in this area, and help you think for yourself.

As you go through the course, you’ll find some brief videos that set the context for the week, and then some important papers. These papers often (deliberately) disagree with each other - your job is to debate the different perspectives. That might - we hope - involve discussing the issues with other learners, using the comment sections at the end of each step.

So… read, think, debate and learn. Don’t just take anything at face value.

As an example - Wikipedia describes ‘mental health’ as “…an absence of a mental disorder”. But the World Health Organisation’s definition of mental health suggests that mental health is “… more than the absence of mental illness”. These two statements can’t BOTH be right… so you’ll have to think for yourself.

It might only be a small, semantic, point, and you may well prefer the advice of the World Health Organisation over the crowd-sourced wisdom of Wikipedia, but it’s an important one. Is “mental health” more than the absence of “mental illness”? There are two contrasting perspectives… your job is to critically evaluate them and make your own mind up.

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This article is from the free online course:

Beyond Diagnosis: Is Psychiatric Diagnosis helpful?

University of Liverpool