Course Syllabus


Public Mental Health 

DIS Logo


Semester & Location:

Summer 2022 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Public Health, Psychology, Pre-medicine/Health Science



Faculty Member:

Syed Rahman (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Program Director:

Susana Dietrich

Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays, 16:25 – 17:45, V10-D14 




Syed Rahman


 With DIS since 2022.


Course Description

This course introduces you to the common mental disorders and their impact on daily life. We explore the different challenges faced by those with mental health conditions. Through peer-reviewed literature, policy briefs, popular media, and discussions with experts in the field, you will develop the necessary competencies to make a positive difference as future leaders promoting healthy populations. Furthermore, the course introduces you to peer-reviewed literature development, research methodology, as well as effective presentation methods.


Expected Learning Outcomes 

After successful completion of the course the students will be able to understand the following:
- the impact/burden of common mental disorders, such as, depression, anxiety and stress
- different research methodology and common challenges in mental health research
- the stigma around mental health problems
- importance of transcultural approach in mental health problems
- multi-disciplinary approach to public mental health
- how to present/communicate about mental health issues 
- how to write and review scientific manuscript for peer-reviewed journals


Approach to Teaching
The course will consist of group work, interactive lectures, theme-based discussions, field studies, short writing assignments, and student presentations.


Expectations of the students
The texts and the information presented in class will provide the necessary structure for you to meet course objectives. The schedule lists reading materials for each class meeting. While this is not a text-heavy course, you should read the assigned material before the class for which it is assigned. A portion of this course will include discussion and classroom activities. You are expected to be prepared for each class by having read and thought about the material before coming to class. By reading the material beforehand, you will better understand the points made in the lecture, you will be best prepared for discussion, and you will be able to ask thoughtful and productive questions. To establish a positive learning environment, it is important that everyone is present, engaged, and actively participates. Please plan on staying for the full class time and take care of bathroom visits (and such) before class or during breaks. Of course, you can leave if it is an emergency.

Evaluation and Grading (this is a preliminary syllabus so evaluation and grading can change)

The class will involve a number of different projects, each of which aims to increase your competencies to address mental health concerns within a written and oral context. The factors influencing the final grade and the proportional importance of each factor is shown below:

Component Weight
Participation and Engagement 15%
“Weekly” assignments (5 x 3% each) 15%
Symposium preparation and presentation 25%
Final Project

    First draft of paper (10%)

    Peer-review completed (10%)

    Revised final paper submitted with cover letter (20%)

    Final paper presentation to the class (5%)



To be eligible for a passing grade in this class, you must complete all of the assigned work. Below you can read more about the assigned work.

Participation and engagement (15%)

Engagement and contribution to the class is critical for both individual and class success. To prepare for each day, you are thus required to attend all classes, read all assigned material, and thoughtfully consider preparation questions. In class, you are expected to contribute value-added knowledge and insights, actively participate in class discussion, engage with outside speakers, and ask good questions.

Classes include lectures, demonstrations, guest speakers, student presentations, debates, and videos.  Attendance is required. You should come to class prepared to ask/answer questions, offer opinions, offer different viewpoints, draw on materials from other classes etc. I also expect you to come prepared to class and have done the required readings and homework. In short, I expect you to take an active role in your own learning.

Weekly assignments (15%)

Several weeks throughout the semester, students will be asked to upload facts/topics they found to be the most interesting and any questions they had from that weeks’ readings or lectures. These assignments provide another chance to reflect on the lectures for the week and also to see what your classmates found interesting. Each posting should be between 50 to 100 words. Assignments are to be submitted on the course website no later than 5pm each Saturday following the Monday/Thursday course week. Submissions later than 5pm will be docked by 1% with no submissions accepted later than 5pm Sunday. No exceptions. There will be a total of five postings, each of which will be worth 3% of the final grade (total of 18%). I strongly encourage you to mark the dates of these assignments in your respective calendars as all students should see these as freebie points!

Symposium (25%)

A key component to this class is learning how to engage different stakeholders in order to best convey your message. For this assignment, you will be split into groups of four to five people who will develop a presentation on a topic of your choice pertaining to public mental health. For example, you could be a patient rights/advocacy organization with a mission of promoting better mental health for Danish citizens. We will discuss and pick scenarios in class. In order to achieve your mission, you have requested an audience with (for example) the Danish Health Minister; the National Federation of General Practitioners; or the European Public Health Association. Your designated audience has generously accepted your offer. You are to develop a 15-20(max!!) minute presentation addressing a topic of your choosing surrounding mental health from a public health perspective. Presentations will be followed by a ~10 minute discussion session moderated by your group. The audience will be expected to engage in the discussion. You can present your information using slides (i.e., Power Point), a combination of handouts, slides, and speaking etc. – however you feel best gets your message across.  How you wish to present is entirely your choice! 

Final Project (45%)

A central learning component of this class is to understand how to write an article in collaboration with co-authors for a peer-reviewed journal and be able to act as a peer-reviewer for academic journals. To those ends, you will work in groups (your co-authors) to research and write a short paper on a topic of your choice relating to public mental health and ‘submit’ that paper for peer-review. You will be graded on both the content of the paper as well as your groups’ ability to abide by the formatting guidelines for the specified mock-journal that you will be 'submitting' the paper to. We will develop topics in class and form groups based on the topic you wish to write about. You will also review a paper written by a group of your classmates (anonymous) and provide them with structured critiques of their work, just as you would expect to receive if you were to submit a paper to a peer-reviewed academic journal. 

  • Turn in a draft very short paper (5-7 pages) in accordance with journal (“The European Journal of Public Health”) guidelines for formatting.
  • Papers will be ‘sent out’ for peer-review. This peer review will include the instructor ('Editor' who will review all papers) and several of your class colleagues. Each group will receive the same paper for review, but each member of the group will provide his/her own individual review of the paper.
  • Reviewers will provide comments to the paper and send back to the 'Editor' within the allotted time frame
  • 'Editor' will compile the comments and send back to the authors
  • Authors will address each reviewer comment in a structured ‘Response to Reviewers’ cover letter and submit it, along with a revised manuscript, back to the 'Editor' for review.
  • The paper will then be reviewed by the 'Editor' and ‘accepted’ or ‘rejected’ for publication.
  • Your group will present the research that you did to the class. You should strive to present your paper in approximately 10 minutes.


Field Studies

Students will have the opportunity to visit institutions and/or organizations that are relevant to the topic at hand.


Topics to be covered

  1. Introduction to common mental disorders
  2. Global trends in common mental disorders
  3. Brief overview on ‘non-affective psychosis’, ‘bipolar disorder’, ‘suicidal behaviour’
  4. Brief overview on neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ‘autism spectrum disorders’, ‘Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’
  5. Mental health stigma
  6. Transcultural psychiatry, challenges in diagnosis and treatment
  7. Migration and mental health
  8. Common mental disorders from a working life perspective
  9. Prioritizing mental health, from a policy perspective, OECD and WHO as examples
  10. Research methodology, including common challenges in mental health research
  11. Development of scientific manuscript for a peer-reviewed journal, respond to reviewers’ comments and provide critical peer-review to a scientific manuscript
  12. Communicating your research by effective presentation


Required Readings

  1. Steel Z, Marnane C, Iranpour C, Chey T, Jackson JW, Patel V, et al. The global prevalence of common mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis 1980-2013. The International Journal of Epidemiology. 2014;43(2):476-93.
  2. Common Mental Health problems: Identification and Pathways to Care. Leicester (UK): National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence: Clinical guidance [CG123], 2011. Available at:
  1. Alonso J, Angermeyer MC, Bernert S, et al; ESEMeD/MHEDEA 2000 Investigators, European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD) Project. Prevalence of mental disorders in Europe: results from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD) project. Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl. 2004;(420):21-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0047.2004.00327.x. PMID: 15128384.
  2. King M, Nazareth I, Levy G, et al. Prevalence of common mental disorders in general practice attendees across Europe. Br J Psychiatry. 2008 May;192(5):362-7. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.039966. PMID: 18450661.
  3. Pashazadeh Kan F, Raoofi S, Rafiei S, et al. A systematic review of the prevalence of anxiety among the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Affect Disord. 2021 Oct 1;293:391-398. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.06.073. Epub 2021 Jul 2. PMID: 34246947.
  4. Baxter AJ, Scott KM, Ferrari AJ, Norman RE, Vos T, Whiteford HA. Challenging the myth of an "epidemic" of common mental disorders: trends in the global prevalence of anxiety and depression between 1990 and 2010. Depress Anxiety. 2014 Jun;31(6):506-16. doi: 10.1002/da.22230. Epub 2014 Jan 21. PMID: 24448889.
  5. Kupfer DJ, Frank E, Phillips ML. Major depressive disorder: new clinical, neurobiological, and treatment perspectives. Lancet. 2012 Mar 17;379(9820):1045-55. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60602-8. Epub 2011 Dec 19. PMID: 22189047; PMCID: PMC3397431.
  6. Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;62(6):593-602. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593. Erratum in: Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Jul;62(7):768. Merikangas, Kathleen R [added]. PMID: 15939837.
  7. Hawton K, van Heeringen K. Suicide. 2009 Apr 18;373(9672):1372-81. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60372-X. PMID: 19376453.
  8. Hawton K, Casañas I Comabella C, Haw C, Saunders K. Risk factors for suicide in individuals with depression: a systematic review. J Affect Disord. 2013 May;147(1-3):17-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2013.01.004. Epub 2013 Feb 12. PMID: 23411024.
  9. Bisson JI, Cosgrove S, Lewis C, Robert NP. Post-traumatic stress disorder. BMJ. 2015 Nov 26;351:h6161. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h6161. PMID: 26611143; PMCID: PMC4663500.
  10. Atwoli L, Stein DJ, Koenen KC, McLaughlin KA. Epidemiology of posttraumatic stress disorder: prevalence, correlates and consequences. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;28(4):307-11. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000167. PMID: 26001922; PMCID: PMC4452282.
  11. Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, et al. Trauma and PTSD in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. 2017;8(sup5):1353383.
  12. Fazel M, Wheeler J, Danesh J. Prevalence of serious mental disorder in 7000 refugees resettled in western countries: a systematic review. Lancet. 2005;365(9467):1309-14.
  13. Castillejos MC, Martín-Pérez C, Moreno-Küstner B. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the incidence of psychotic disorders: the distribution of rates and the influence of gender, urbanicity, immigration and socio-economic level. Psychol Med. 2018 Feb 22:1-15. doi: 10.1017/S0033291718000235. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 29467052.
  14. Kirkbride JB, Errazuriz A, Croudace TJ, Morgan C, Jackson D, Boydell J, Murray RM, Jones PB. Incidence of schizophrenia and other psychoses in England, 1950-2009: a systematic review and meta-analyses. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e31660. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031660. Epub 2012 Mar 22. PMID: 22457710; PMCID: PMC3310436.
  15. Hollander AC, Dal H, Lewis G, et al. Refugee migration and risk of schizophrenia and other non-affective psychoses: cohort study of 1.3 million people in Sweden. Bmj. 2016;15(352).
  16. Barican JL, Yung D, Schwartz C, et al. Prevalence of childhood mental disorders in high-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis to inform policymaking. Evid Based Ment Health. 2021 Jul 19:ebmental-2021-300277. doi: 10.1136/ebmental-2021-300277. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34281985.
  17. Campion J. Public mental health: key challenges and opportunities. BJPsych Int. 2018 Aug;15(3):51-54. doi: 10.1192/bji.2017.11. PMID: 31452534; PMCID: PMC6690256.
  18. Ashton, J. (2021). Public mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine,1-4. doi:10.1017/ipm.2021.16
  19. Corbiere M, Negrini A, Dewa C. Chapter XVII: Mental Health Problems and Mental Disorders: Linked Determinants to Work Participation and Work Functioning. In: Loisel P, Anema J, editors. Handbook of Work Disability, Prevention and Management: Springer. p. 267-82.
  20. Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work. Paris: OECD Publishing, 2012 ISBN: 978-92-64-12452-3.
  21. Helgesson M, Tinghög P, Wang M, Rahman S, Saboonchi F, Mittendorfer-Rutz E. Trajectories of work disability and unemployment among young adults with common mental disorders. BMC Public Health. 2018 Nov 6;18(1):1228. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-6141-y. PMID: 30400785; PMCID: PMC6219052.
  22. Rahman S, Mittendorfer-Rutz E, Alexanderson K, Jokinen J, Tinghög P. Disability pension due to common mental disorders and healthcare use before and after policy changes; a nationwide study. Eur J Public Health. 2017 Feb 1;27(1):90-96. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckw211. PMID: 28177513.
  23. Fiorillo A, Luciano M, Del Vecchio V, et al; ROAMER Consortium. Priorities for mental health research in Europe: A survey among national stakeholders' associations within the ROAMER project. World Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;12(2):165-70. doi: 10.1002/wps.20052. PMID: 23737426; PMCID: PMC3683269.
  24. Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly work in Medical Journals. Available at:
  1. Wager, Elizabeth. Getting research published – A to Z of publication strategy. Oxford: Radcliffe publishing, 2005
  2. European Journal of Public Health. Instruction for authors. Available at:
  1. How to perform a peer review | Wiley. Available at:
  1. Presenting your research effectively | APA. Available at:


Further reading:

  1. No health without public mental health – the case for action. Royal College of Psychiatrists Position Statement (PS¤/2010). London 2010. Available at:
  1. McManus S MH, Brugha T, Bebbington P, R J, editors. Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007. Results of a household survey. London: The NHS Information Centre for health and social care. Available at:
  1. Hasin DS, Goodwin RD, Stinson FS, Grant BF. Epidemiology of major depressive disorder: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcoholism and Related Conditions. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Oct;62(10):1097-106. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.62.10.1097. PMID: 16203955.
  2. Liu X, Zhu M, Zhang R, Zhang J, Zhang C, Liu P, Feng Z, Chen Z. Public mental health problems during COVID-19 pandemic: a large-scale meta-analysis of the evidence. Transl Psychiatry. 2021 Jul 9;11(1):384. doi: 10.1038/s41398-021-01501-9. PMID: 34244469; PMCID: PMC8266633.
  3. Grant BF, Stinson FS, Hasin DS, Dawson DA, Chou SP, Ruan WJ, Huang B. Prevalence, correlates, and comorbidity of bipolar I disorder and axis I and II disorders: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. J Clin Psychiatry. 2005 Oct;66(10):1205-15. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v66n1001. PMID: 16259532.
  4. Holder SD, Wayhs A. Schizophrenia. Am Fam Physician. 2014 Dec 1;90(11):775-82. PMID: 25611712.
  5. Schultz SH, North SW, Shields CG. Schizophrenia: a review. Am Fam Physician. 2007 Jun 15;75(12):1821-9. PMID: 17619525.
  6. McGrath J, Saha S, Chant D, Welham J. Schizophrenia: a concise overview of incidence, prevalence, and mortality. Epidemiol Rev. 2008;30:67-76. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxn001. Epub 2008 May 14. PMID: 18480098.
  7. Wasserman D, Rihmer Z, Rujescu D, Sarchiapone M, Sokolowski M, Titelman D, Zalsman G, Zemishlany Z, Carli V; European Psychiatric Association. The European Psychiatric Association (EPA) guidance on suicide treatment and prevention. Eur Psychiatry. 2012 Feb;27(2):129-41. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2011.06.003. Epub 2011 Dec 1. PMID: 22137775.
  8. Rahman S, Wiberg M, Alexanderson K, Jokinen J, Tanskanen A, Mittendorfer-Rutz E. Trajectories of antidepressant medication use in individuals before and after being granted disability pension due to common mental disorders- a nationwide register-based study. BMC Psychiatry. 2018 Feb 13;18(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s12888-018-1628-8. PMID: 29439697; PMCID: PMC5812203.
  9. Loisel P, Cote P. Chapter V: The Work Disability Paradigm and Its Public Health Implications. In: Loisel P, Anema J, editors. Handbook of Work Disability, Prevention and Management: Springer. p. 60-1.
  10. Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers. A synthesis of findings across OECD countries. OECD publishing, Paris, 2010 ISBN 978-92-64-08885-6
  11. Mental Health and Work: Sweden. OECD Publishing, Paris, 2013 ISBN: 978-92-64-18873-0.
  12. Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work. Paris: OECD Publishing, 2012 ISBN: 978-92-64-12452-3.
  13. Social Insurance Agency (försäkringskassan). Social Insurance in Figures 2019. Sweden: The Social Insurance Agency, 2020. ISBN: 978-91-7500-407-5; ISSN: 2000-1703. Available at:
  1. Nature Publishing Group. Authors and referees. MacMillan Publishers Limited; 2015. Available at:
  1. How to write a peer review | PLOS. Available at:
  1. Hooking your audience: tips for presenting your research - Advice from Vitae's Three Minute Thesis People's Choice winner. Available at:
  1. Present your research project in 10 simple slides. Available at:



Policy on late assignments: Late assignments will be accepted, but your grade for the paper will be reduced by a grade point for each day that it is late (A- will be B+, then B, etc.). Papers more than five days late will not be accepted.

Use of laptops or phones in class: You may use your laptop for note‐taking or fact‐checking. Usage not related to the class or our subject is unacceptable. We will rely on your integrity and your respect for our objectives. If you are using your laptop for reasons not related to class, your class participation grade will be reduced significantly and you will be asked not to bring your laptop. Phones may not be used in class, regardless of function. Phones should be placed in silent mode when arriving for class and students should refrain from having them out during class unless you have a specific reason that has been discussed with the faculty ahead of time. 

Office Hours: The instructor has no set office hours, but you may contact them or the program assistant, to schedule an appointment or ask questions.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS Contacts

Louise Bagger Iversen , Assistant Program Director, 
Susana Dietrich, Science & Health Program Director, 


 DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -



Course Summary:

Date Details Due