• University of Liverpool logo

Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture

Learn how a psychological understanding of our emotions and behaviour gives us new ways to improve mental health and well-being.

148,699 enrolled on this course

Mental health and well-being
  • Get access to 1,000's of courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Digital certificate when eligible
  • Long term access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Printed and digital certificates when eligible - great for career learners
  • Course access expires 28 Sep 2022
  • Limited learning time
  • Excludes certificates and tests

Find out more about how to join this course

Understand how clinical psychologists form a mental health diagnosis

Mental health is multifaceted and the nature vs nurture debate is now considered too simplified and outdated in mental health diagnosis.

On this six-week course, you’ll explore some of the current challenges and debates in the area of diagnosis and treatment. With this knowledge, you’ll also discover new ways of thinking psychologically about mental health.

By the end of the course, you’ll have an understanding of how psychologists unpack emotions, behaviours, and thinking patterns, and how this helps clinical psychologists make sense of their client’s problems.

Gain new perspectives on the nature vs nurture debate

Examining a psychological model of mental health, you’ll go beyond the nature vs nurture debate to understand how we are affected by life experiences.

You’ll also discuss new research and key scientific papers and literature, which promises to help us improve our own mental health and wellbeing.

Discover intelligent ways of understanding mental health

You’ll explore a number of different perspectives to understand the many areas that affect mental health.

Unpacking social aspects, life events, and research, you’ll gain insight into how to protect and promote mental wellbeing.

Learn from the experts at the University of Liverpool

Throughout the course, you’ll be guided by Peter Kinderman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool, and author of “A Prescription for Psychiatry: Why We Need a Whole New Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing”.

By the end, you’ll understand the various contributing factors to mental health and how a psychological approach can help improve diagnosis and treatment.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds I’m Peter Kinderman and I’m a professor of clinical psychology here at the University of Liverpool. I think there are much more elegant, much more intelligent ways of understanding mental health than the tired old nature or nurture or a bit of both sort of argument. I think things would be genuinely transformed if we understood how we make sense of the world.

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds This course is called Beyond Nature and Nurture, a psychological model of mental health. What we’re going to do is expose people to some of the big debates about mental health, give people some of the key scientific papers describing how our biological health can affect our mental health and our emotions. We’re also going to expose people to some of the key scientific literature about how life events can impact on our mental health. And then I’m going to talk people through how psychologists integrate those findings and make sense of them.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second We’re going to get people to look at things through a number of different perspectives to discuss those different viewpoints with each other on the course and then to try to find their own way of integrating the huge number of different perspectives that everybody has on mental health issues. It’s a six week course, we’ve designed it with about two to three hours work per week, hopefully by the end of the course people will at the very least, understand a little bit more about mental health issues. Hopefully, they’ll be able to start to put that to use in understanding how their own emotions work and maybe even get some insight into how to protect, and promote their own mental health.


  • Week 1

    Why do we behave as we do?

    • Introduction

      Why do we behave as we do?

    • Course Content

      In this first week, we'll try to understand why some people experience mental health problems and others don't. Is this because of differences in nature (their biology), nurture (what happens to them)... or something else?

    • Some websites that might be useful

      Here are some links to psychology websites for the uninitiated. This is a purely optional section that is designed to fill in any gaps in your understanding of the topic. Feel free to skip this section (and all optional steps).

    • Discussion

      Take this short test which tells you about yourself and then discover others on the course in our discussion section.

    • I may need some help !

      Help if you need it

  • Week 2

    What does the brain, actually, do?

    • Introduction

      Biological and neurological approaches to mental health and well-being.

    • Course Content

      A brief introduction to biological and neurological approaches to mental health and well-being. For people new to the area, the New Scientist's website on the brain may be helpful.

    • Assessment and Discussion

      A short quiz about the materials used this week

  • Week 3

    Events and consequences

    • Introduction

      This week, we will explore how our mental health and well-being are affected by the events that happen to us.

    • Course Content

      Some brief videos introduce key scientific papers that outline how environmental factors - the things that happen to us - impact on our mental health and well-being.

    • Assessment and Discussion

      A brief quiz and opportunity to discuss the materials presented this week

  • Week 4

    Making sense of things

    • Introduction

      Psychological processes - how we make sense of the world - add something vital to the 'nature:nurture' debate

    • Course Content

      My take on how to bring together biological, psychological and social approaches to mental health and well-being.... placing psychology at the centre of things.

    • Discussion

      This final discussion will be about Psychological Factors.

  • Week 5

    The Kinderman method

    • Introduction

      A set of brief, evidence-based, suggestions as to how we might all protect and improve our mental health and well-being.

    • Course Content

      Some straightforward advice on how to maintain your mental health and well-being, based on the ideas discussed earlier in this course

    • Written Assignment

      The final section of this week includes a peer reviewed assignment. It will be really beneficial to both complete this task and review the work of your fellow learners.

  • Week 6

    Doing things differently

    • Introduction

      Designing services from a psychological perspective. A brief discussion about how we might design and deliver mental health services from a non-medical perspective

    • Doing things differently

      Some thoughts as to how we might provide services based on a 'psycho-bio-social' model.

    • Course reading list and further reading

      An overview of the course materials, and some books and websites that could take forward your understanding of these issues

    • I may need some help!

      Help if you need it

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore how social aspects can impact on mental health
  • Explore the extent to which life events affect mental health and well being
  • Synthesise differing contemporary approaches to health and well being
  • Engage in cutting edge research into mental health and well being
  • Compare different explanatory models of mental health
  • Synthesise different conceptual and explanatory models of mental health

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who wishes to understand more about psychology, mental health, or who wishes to maintain their own mental health and wellbeing.

Who will you learn with?

Lead Educator and Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool.

I am a post-doctorate researcher at the University of Liverpool. I am interested in the ways we assess mental health difficulties and in alternatives to psychiatric diagnosis.

Who developed the course?

University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool is ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide.


Ways to learn

Buy this course

Subscribe to Unlimited

Join with limited access

Choose the best way to learn for you!


One-off payment


Automatically renews


Unlock your expertiseAccess thousands of coursesTry this course - with limits
Access to this courseticktickLimited to 6 weeks
Access to ALL eligible coursescrosstickcross
Learn at your own paceticktickcross
Discuss your learning in commentstickticktick
Certificate when you're eligiblePrinted and digitalDigital onlycross
Buy this course

Ways to learn

Subscribe to Unlimited to access this course and thousands of other short courses or buy just this course for extra benefits. Or, join with limited access.

Subscribe to Unlimited


Automatically renews

Access thousands of courses

  • Access to this course
  • Access to ALL eligible short courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Buy this course


One-off payment

Unlock your expertise

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Join with limited access


Try before you buy

  • Limited access to course content for 6 weeks

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLmentalhealth to talk about this course on social media.