Course Syllabus

Public Mental Health

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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 and Ridwanul Amin (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Academic Support:

Program Director:

Susana Dietrich

Time & Place:

1D-509, for times please see Course summary below



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.


Learning Objectives

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 research 
- how to write and review scientific abstract for peer-reviewed journals




Syed Rahman.jpg

Syed Rahman 

Syed’s research focuses on common mental disorders from a medical and work life perspective. Currently, Syed works as an Assistant Professor in Psychiatric Epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet and is involved in projects on work disability of young individuals with common mental disorders, and the role of mental health on integration of young refugees in Sweden. His postdoctoral assignments included post-traumatic disorder in the Swedish population, maternal PTSD and childhood attention deficit disorder, back pain and work disability, myocardial infarction and subsequent work disability, etc. Syed is a medical doctor from Bangladesh, and obtained his MSc in Public Health and PhD in epidemiology from Karolinska Institutet. Syed previously lectured as a guest lecturer at DIS and is exited to be part of the Public Mental Health summer course. With DIS since 2022.


Ridwanul Amin

Ridwan investigates the associations between migration status, social marginalisation and suicidal behaviour. He obtained his PhD and MSc in Public Health (Epidemiology) from Karolinska Institutet, Sweden in 2021 and 2016, respectively. Ridwan graduated as an MD from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2010. As a physician, he worked on projects aimed at improving child and adolescent health in Bangladesh during 2011-2014. With DIS since December 2021.  

Field Studies

Students will have the opportunity to visit a psychiatric hospital to gain insight into psychiatric healthcare and transcultural psychiatry in Sweden. They will also visit Karolinska Institutet - a medical university in Sweden where they will learn about the use of register data in addressing research questions related to public mental health.


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

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 (3 x 5% each) 15%
Final Project

    First draft of abstract (15%)

    Peer-review (15%)

    Revised abstract submission with cover letter (25%)

    Poster presentation (15%)



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 are 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%)

Every week throughout the course, 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. 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 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 three postings, each of which will be worth 5% of the final grade (total of 15%). We strongly encourage you to mark the dates of these assignments in your respective calendars as all students should see these as freebie points.

Final Project (70%)

A central learning component of this class is to understand how to write an abstract 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 an abstract (500 words) 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 group’s ability to abide by the formatting guidelines for the specified mock journal that you will be 'submitting' the paper. We will develop topics in class and form groups based on the topic you wish to write about. You will also review an abstract 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 an abstract to a peer-reviewed academic journal. 

  • Turn in a draft abstract (500 words) in accordance with journal (“The European Journal of Public Health”) guidelines for formatting.
  • Abstracts will be ‘sent out’ for peer review. This peer review will include the instructor ('Editor' who will review all abstracts) and several of your class colleagues. Each group will receive the same abstract for review, but each member of the group will provide his/her own individual review.
  • Reviewers will provide comments to the abstract and send it back to the 'Editor' within the allotted time frame
  • 'Editor' will compile the comments and send them back to the authors
  • Authors will address each reviewer's comment in a structured ‘Response to Reviewers’ cover letter and submit it, along with a revised abstract, back to the 'Editor' for review.
  • The abstract 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 abstract in approximately 15 minutes.


Topics to be covered

  1. Introduction to common mental disorders
  2. Global trends in common mental disorders
  3. Brief overview of ‘non-affective psychosis’, ‘bipolar disorder’, ‘suicidal behaviour’
  4. Brief overview of 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 abstract for a peer-reviewed journal, responding to reviewers’ comments and providing critical peer-review
  12. Communicating your research by effective presentation



Mental disorders

  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:
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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].
  9. Hawton K, van Heeringen K. Suicide. 2009 Apr 18;373(9672):1372-81. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60372-X.
  10. 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.
  11. Bisson JI, Cosgrove S, Lewis C, Robert NP. Post-traumatic stress disorder. BMJ. 2015 Nov 26;351:h6161. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h6161.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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).
  18. 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.
  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.
  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.

Research methods

  1. Badu, E., O’Brien, A.P. & Mitchell, R. An integrative review on methodological considerations in mental health research – design, sampling, data collection procedure and quality assurance. Arch Public Health 77, 37 (2019).
  2. Campion J. Public mental health: key challenges and opportunities. BJPsych Int. 2018 Aug;15(3):51-54. doi: 10.1192/bji.2017.11.
  3. No health without public mental health – the case for action. Royal College of Psychiatrists Position Statement (PS¤/2010). London 2010. Available at:
  4. 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.

Writing your research

  1. Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly work in Medical Journals. Available at:
  2. Wager, Elizabeth. Getting research published – A to Z of publication strategy. Oxford: Radcliffe publishing, 2005
  3. European Journal of Public Health. Instruction for authors. Available at:
  4. How to perform a peer review | Wiley. Available at:

Presenting your research

  1. Presenting your research effectively | APA. Available at:
  2. How to avoid death by PowerPoint.
  3. Present your research project in 10 simple slides. Available at:
  4. Making a short presentation based on your research: 11 tips MARKUS GOLDSTEIN & DAVID EVANS Available at:
  5. Erren TC, Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for a good poster presentation. PLoS Comput Biol. 2007;3(5):e102. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030102

Transcultural psychiatry

  1. Ashton, J. (2021). Public mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine,1-4. doi:10.1017/ipm.2021.16
  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.
  3. Lewis-Fernández R, Kirmayer LJ. Cultural concepts of distress and psychiatric disorders: Understanding symptom experience and expression in context. Transcult Psychiatry. 2019 Aug;56(4):786-803. doi: 10.1177/1363461519861795.
  4. Green B, Colucci E. Traditional healers' and biomedical practitioners' perceptions of collaborative mental healthcare in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review. Transcult Psychiatry. 2020 Feb;57(1):94-107. doi: 10.1177/1363461519894396. Epub 2020 Jan 14.

Mental health stigma

  1. Clement S, Schauman O, Graham T, Maggioni F, Evans-Lacko S, Bezborodovs N, Morgan C, Rüsch N, Brown JS, Thornicroft G. What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychol Med. 2015 Jan;45(1):11-27. doi: 10.1017/S0033291714000129. Epub 2014 Feb 26.
  2. Carrara BS, Fernandes RHH, Bobbili SJ, Ventura CAA. Health care providers and people with mental illness: An integrative review on anti-stigma interventions. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2021 Nov;67(7):840-853. doi: 10.1177/0020764020985891. Epub 2020 Dec 30.

Migration and mental health

  1. Namer Y, Razum O. Convergence Theory and the Salmon Effect in Migrant Health. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health [Internet]. 2018. [cited 21 October 2020], Available from:
  2. Helgesson M, Johansson B, Nordquist T, Vingård E, Svartengren M. Healthy migrant effect in the Swedish context: a register-based, longitudinal cohort study. BMJ open. 2019;9(3):e026972-e. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026972
  3. Lee R. Does the healthy immigrant effect apply to mental health? Examining the effects of immigrant generation and racial and ethnic background among Australian adults. SSM - Popul Health. 2019;7:100311. doi: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2018.10.011
  4. Amin R, Mittendorfer-rutz E, Mehlum L, Runeson B, Helgesson M, Tinghog P, Bjorkenstam E, Holmes Ea, Qin P. Does country of resettlement influence the risk of suicide in refugees? A case-control study in Sweden and Norway. EPIDEMIOLOGY AND PSYCHIATRIC SCIENCES 2021;

Further readings:

  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:
  2. 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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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:
  14. Nature Publishing Group. Authors and referees. MacMillan Publishers Limited; 2015. Available at:
  15. How to write a peer review | PLOS. Available at:
  16. Bogic M, Njoku A, Priebe S. Long-term mental health of war-refugees: a systematic literature review. BMC Int Health Hum Rights. 2015;15(1):29.
  17. Lindert J, Ehrenstein OS, Priebe S, Mielck A, Brahler E. Depression and anxiety in labor migrants and refugees--a systematic review and meta-analysis. Soc Sci Med. 2009;69(2):246-57.
  18. Porter M, Haslam N. Predisplacement and postdisplacement factors associated with mental health of refugees and internally displaced persons: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2005;294(5):602-12.
  19. Abebe DS, Lien L, Elstad JI. Immigrants' utilization of specialist mental healthcare according to age, country of origin, and migration history: a nation-wide register study in Norway. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2017;52(6):679-87.
  20. Amin, R. (2021). Suicidal behaviour and healthcare use among refugees. Karolinska Institutet (Sweden). Available at:
  21. Vandenheede H, Willaert D, De Grande H, Simoens S, Vanroelen C. Mortality in adult immigrants in the 2000s in Belgium: a test of the 'healthy-migrant' and the 'migration-as-rapid-health-transition' hypotheses. Trop Med Int Health. 2015;20(12):1832-45.
  22. Norredam M, Agyemang C, Hoejbjerg Hansen OK, Petersen JH, Byberg S, Krasnik A, et al. Duration of residence and disease occurrence among refugees and family reunited immigrants: test of the 'healthy migrant effect' hypothesis. Trop Med Int Health. 2014;19(8):958-67.


Policy on late assignments: Late assignments will be accepted, but your grade for the final abstract will be reduced by a grade point for each day that it is late (A- will be B+, then B, etc.). An abstract 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:


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Course Summary:

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