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University of Alaska Fairbanks

Mental Health History and Treatment

University of Alaska Fairbanks via edX


As humans, we are continuously faced with challenges in our lives and in our society, depending on the severity of the challenge and the resources we have to cope with that challenge, it is essential to grow a trauma informed, and culturally grounded workforce of helpers that can provide support in navigating these challenges.

This course will explore the history and treatment of individuals with mental health disorders in the United States. This course will also highlight the historical and present day societal views of mental health services and the criminalization of mental health.

Learners will also have exposure to the importance of re-entry support from a variety of institutions. Throughout this course we will use person-first language around mental health with the understanding that mental health is not just mental illness. You will, however, see the use of the term "mental illness" in a lot of course materials, and will see that some resources will still use only the term "mental illness" or separate "mental health" and "mental illness". Understand that some of these terms are interchangeable in the field, however the focus in this course will be on mental health as a whole, viewing "mental illness" instead as mental health disorders or mental health challenges. It is important to acknowledge that many learners may have, or had in their lifetime, mental health disorders, challenges, and/or have had traumatic events occur in their lifetimes. The instructor will attempt to give content warnings around more sensitive material that will be covered, and learners are encouraged to utilize self-care strategies and reach out to your support system if there is material that is especially difficult for you.

The field of mental health is both challenging and rewarding, this course will give you insight into an important, and often stigmatized, topic that impacts our society on multiple levels, and requires compassionate and competent professionals to meet the increasing demand of jobs for mental health professionals in the United States and the world.


  • Week 1: Introduction to Mental Health
  • Week 2: Policies and Deinstitutionalization
  • Week 3: Societal Views and Criminalization
  • Week 4: Etiology, Diagnosis, Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Week 5: Social Determinants and Mental Health Across the Life Span
  • Week 6: Indigenous Mental Health & Cultural Considerations

Taught by

Christina Ireton


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