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Ethics and mental health

Explore the bioethical issues applied to mental health
The course aspires to inform future decision-makers in the health, public policy, clinical settings and academia in the unique aspects of biomedical ethics in the field of mental health.

Course overview

Mental health and mental illness are unique in the field of healthcare and bioethics. The nature of psychiatric disorders and its relationship with prevailing social and cultural factors, in addition to the unique status of the mental health patient, necessitate and specific discourse in biomedical ethics in the area of mental health.

This course will provide participants with a broad perspective of issues in bioethics applied to mental health and mental illness. You will examine the history of the psychiatric profession and consider the adequacy of current safeguards against the abuses of power seen in the history of the profession of psychiatry.

Other areas considered include the current ethical dilemmas in mental health care, the implications of technological advances in the neurosciences, the philosophical basis of the concept of mental disorder, the relationship between power and the psychiatric profession and the complex relationship between morality, mental health and the law.

Effective involvement in this course will enable students to:

  • understand the uniqueness of mental health care and the distinct vulnerability of people with mental illnesses
  • understand the social construction of mental health and mental illness
  • describe the values implicit in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment
  • comprehend relevant legal and social policy constructs in relation to mental illness
  • appreciate the specific concerns of mental health problems in specific groups including children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, refugees and asylum seekers, LGBTIQ people, people with learning and intellectual disabilities.

Important: This short course is a variant of the unit of study, Ethics and Mental Health (BETH5205). It enables you to complete the unit without formal university enrolment. You will receive a certificate of completion, however, you will not receive credit points towards a University of Sydney degree.

Key information
Course fees
  • $1,100 (incl. GST)
  • 10% discount for groups of three or more participants from the same institution or organisation
Course structure
  • 13-week online course comprising of lectures and activities
Application deadline 26 July 2019 
Dates TBC

How to apply


Complete the online application. You will be able to enter payment details as part of this secure process.

Groups (three or more)

Complete the group application form (pdf, 57.7KB) and submit it to

University of Sydney staff

Contact us regarding a journal transfer after you have submitted your application form.

Group application form

Download PDF


  • Education Support Office, Level 3, Edward Ford Building (A27), The University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia