Skip main navigation

What do experts mean by ‘mental health’ (and ‘illness’) and ‘normality’?

Short introduction to the activity 'What do experts mean by ‘mental health’ (and ‘illness’) and ‘normality’?'
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

So far we have looked at myths and misconceptions about people with mental health issues, now let’s explore what experts have to say about the issue.

How do we define ‘mental health’ (and ‘illness’) and ‘normality’?

Is this an easy thing to do?

Explore the following steps and think about how we define mental health and issues (sometimes referred to as ‘illnesses’ or ‘conditions’). Are there any problems with the way we do this?

In this activity you will also explore the norms of mental health and how we define an ‘abnormality’ from these norms.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online, a norm is:

‘A standard or pattern of social behaviour that is accepted in or expected of a group’ (OED 2018)

‘Norm’ is a term you will encounter many times on this course.


‘norm, n. 1’ _Oxford English Dictionary Online’- [online]. available from [7th January 2019]

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
This article is from the free online

Defining Mental Health: A Short Introduction

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education