Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.

Mental Health Awareness Month: 10 Courses You Can Audit for Free

In the past, poor mental health was often categorized as demonic possession, witchcraft, or punishment by God. Luckily, things have improved, but there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness. It can also be very difficult to access affordable treatment. Because of mental health misconceptions and the barriers in the healthcare system, many people who need help never receive it. According to the WHO, suicide remains the leading cause of death among 15-29 years old. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so to learn more about mental health and wellness, here are ten courses you can audit for free. You can also choose to opt-in for a verified certificate for an extra fee.

The Science of Well-Being | Yale University

In this 19-hour course, Professor Laurie Santos leads students through a series of challenges that can increase their happiness and help them build productive habits. To begin, students will learn about happiness, how the mind works, and study research that supports the challenges and habits included in the course. Students will be prepared to start their own wellness activity and rewire old habits. Deadlines are flexible.

Psychological First Aid | Johns Hopkins University

This course teaches students how to offer psychological first aid to people following an emergency. It uses the RAPID model, which is reflective listening, assessment of needs, prioritization, intervention, and disposition. It applies to a variety of settings, including the workplace, the military, and anywhere following a trauma like a robbery, homicide, or community violence. The course takes about 6 hours to complete.

Mind Control: Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19 | University of Toronto

The pandemic has lead to a major increase in anxiety worldwide. In this course, instructor Steve Joordens provides students with strategies for managing anxiety during a crisis. Topics include how the anxiety response works, how consuming the news affects your mental health, and the effects of isolation. A short beginner course, it takes about 3 hours to complete.

The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness | University of Toronto

Taught by Charmaine Williams, social worker and Associate Professor, this course examines how social factors affect mental health. This includes the diagnosing and treatment of mental illness, as well as how culture and development affect how we think about mental health and mental illness. The course takes about 14 hours to complete.

Positive Psychiatry and Mental Health | University of Sydney

“Positive psychiatry” is a new term from 2016 that describes a dual approach to mental health: building strength and support and also treating illness. This course examines what good mental health looks like, as well as the causes and treatments for major mental disorders. Students will hear from both Australian experts and people with lived experiences. Strategies like creativity, medications, and yoga are approached with an evidence-based lens. The course takes 20 hours to complete.

Young People and Their Mental Health | University of Groningen/University of Cambridge

1 in 5 teenagers deals with mental health problems. This course, which is designed for young people, explores what mental health is, what causes mental health issues, and what to do when faced with a mental health issue. Students will learn how to identify the symptoms of problems like anxiety and depression while also considering factors like genetics and environment. The course takes about 5 weeks to complete with 2 hours of work per week.

Able-Minded: Mental Health and People With Intellectual Disability | UQx

Over 5 weeks, students will learn about disorders like depression and anxiety; how the assessment and screening process works for children; how to identify challenging behavior; and treatment guidelines. The intermediate-level course also gets into patient rights and ethics, which is very important in this topic. The work is self-paced with a certificate available for a fee.

Talk to Me: Improving Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in Young Adults | CurtinX

This 6-module course is a German-Australian collaboration that responds to the suicide crisis facing young people. Students will learn what mental health is, the impact of stress, and the contributing factors to poor mental health and suicide. They’ll also learn why self-harm is such a common coping mechanism, as well as how to talk to a person that might be at risk of suicide. The course also covers different strategies that help improve mental health. With 2-3 hours of work per week, students can finish in 6 weeks.

Major Depression in the Population: A Public Health Approach | John Hopkins University

A beginner-level course, “Major Depression” takes a public health approach to depression. That means it looks at depression through the lens of epidemiology, transcultural psychiatry, health services research, and prevention. After completing the course, students will have a much deeper understanding of how a public health approach applies to mental disorders. Topics include maternal depression in low and middle-income countries and possible causes for depression such as stress, social life, and genetics. The course takes about 11 hours to complete.

PTSD in the Global Context | University of Glasgow

PTSD is on the rise. Forced displacement is a big reason why, so to these populations, people must understand PTSD and how to treat it. In this course, students will learn about PTSD, its symptoms, and how it manifests in a global context. Culture will be considered, as well as various treatment options like psychological therapy and other evidence-based strategies. With a 4-hour per week commitment, you can complete this course in 4 weeks.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.