Tackling Mental Health as a Public Health Issue
KSU is among a very few colleges of public health offering students the opportunity to learn about this emergent and growing perspective.
Introduction to Public Mental Health is an online course for undergraduate and graduate students that provides a broad understanding of mental health, from a public health perspective. The course provides a background about public mental health, including social inequalities and U.S. costs, the global burden of mental illness, public policy, causes, prevention, intervention. Course content also discusses the impact to specific, at times underrepresented groups, including children, incarcerated individuals, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, and persons who identify as LGBTQ+ populations. Students leave the course having earned certificates of completion in Kognito and QPR—two online trainings that increase mental health knowledge, reduce mental illness stigma, and develop skills needed to make referrals to appropriate mental health professionals.
Deric Kenne, PhD, who proposed and co-developed the course, said, "At Kent State and across the country, the population has experienced soaring rates of anxiety, depression, and substance use, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many warning of an impending mental health pandemic, ‘Introduction to Public Mental Health’ provides students with an opportunity to learn about and understand mental health as a public health issue in order to better serve our communities."
"I knew Introduction to Public Mental Health would be well received, but I wasn't prepared for the outpouring of positive feedback I get from students," said Kim Laurene, PhD, one of the course instructors and co-developers. "Students are continuously sharing with me how much they appreciate the course and the topics covered in the class."
Other co-developers include Dr. Jennifer King and Megan Anderson. Additional input was provided by Dr. Sam Nousak and Kayla Marker.
Both the QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Program Certificate as well as the Kognito training were of huge value to me. I feel more confident in directly addressing an individual struggling with a mental health crisis,” said MPH student Tracy Figurella. “I better understand how mental and physical health make up an individual’s well-being, and I can see why mental health discussions are moving to the forefront of public health conversations,” continued Figurella.
Mental health as a public health issue is an emerging field within public health that is growing in importance. KSU is among a very few colleges of public health offering students the opportunity to learn about this newly emerging and growing perspective. Introduction to Public Mental Health is a special topics course and is anticipated to be offered again in future semesters.