HP432      Half Unit
Mental health policy

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Martin Knapp


This course is available on the MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing, MSc in International Health Policy and MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The proposed course should appeal to students interested in the challenges of, and policy responses to mental illness across a wide range of societies and economies. 

Priority will be given to students from the Health Policy Department.


Students are required to have some knowledge of health systems or mental health issues. 

Course content

The aim of this course is to consider how public policy can be shaped to address the many personal, social and economic challenges posed by mental illnesses, across the full life-course (indeed, some mental illnesses start earlier, with origins in the womb). Mental health will be considered in a range of contexts: high-, medium- and low-income settings. An important emphasis will be on the global nature of the challenges, and the need to find responses that have relevance across different societies.

The strong associations with disadvantage will also be a core theme running through the course, linked to social and other determinants of (mental) health. Other key areas of policy-making will be covered, including how decision-making balances the roles of different stakeholders, particularly individuals with lived experience of mental illness, families and communities. We will look at whether and how policy decisions are based on considerations of (and evidence about) the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and viability of treatments, and the social impact of prevention and interventions in different cultural contexts and at different life-stages.

Students will discuss issues and strategies on how public policy – not just in the health sector but more widely – can play crucial roles in prevention (or at least risk-reduction), access to and funding of treatments, recovery and re-integration, social and economic inclusion, and so on. Some of the material in the course will be based on research recently or currently undertaken at LSE.

Course outline (by week)

1. What is mental illness? 

2. Responses? What are the societal and policy responses to mental illness? 

3. Stigma and discrimination

4. Perinatal mental health

5. Child and adolescent mental wellbeing

6. User / survivor movements

7. Adult mental health

8. Old age mental health

9. Global mental health, poverty and socio-economic disadvantage

10. Enduring lessons for mental health policy


The course will be delivered in no less that 22 hours and consists of lectures and seminars.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT (of up to 1500 words) during the course, which could be linked to the topic of their group-based project.

Indicative reading

  • • Daly S, Allen J (2019) Inequalities in Mental Health, Cognitive Impairment and Dementia among Older People. London: Institute of Health Equity, UCL

    • Kieling C, Baker-Henningham H, Belfer M, et al (2011) Child and adolescent mental health worldwide: evidence for action. Lancet.

    • Knapp M, Iemmi V (2016) Mental health. In Scheffler R (ed.) Global Handbook of Health Economics. World Scientific Press.

    • Knapp M, Wong G (2020) Economics and mental health: the current scenario. World Psychiatry 19(1):3-14.

    • Livingston G, Sommerlad A, Orgeta V et al (2017) Dementia prevention, intervention and care (Lancet Commission). Lancet 390(10113):2673-2734.

    • Lund C, De Silva M, Plagerson S et al. (2011) Poverty and mental disorders: breaking the cycle in low-income and middle-income countries. The Lancet 378(9801):1502a€1514.

    • McDaid D, Park A, Knapp M (2017) Commissioning Cost-Effective Services for Promotion of Mental Health and Wellbeing and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health. London: Public Health England.

    • Mental Health Task Force (2016) The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. NHS England.

    • Patel V, Saxena S, Lund C et al (2018) The Lancet Commission on global mental health and sustainable development. Lancet 392(10157):1553-1598.

    • Prince M, Patel V, Saxena S et al (2007) No health without mental health. Lancet 370(9590):859-877.

    • Saxena S, Thornicroft G, Knapp M, Whiteford H (2007) Resources for mental health: scarcity, inequity and inefficiency. The Lancet 370(9590):878-889.

    • Slade M, Amering M, Farkas M et al (2014) Uses and abuses of recovery: implementing recovery-oriented practices in mental health systems. World Psychiatry, 13:12-20.

    • Thornicroft G (2006) Shunned: Discrimination Against People with Mental Illness. Oxford.

    • Wessley S et al (2018) Modernising the Mental Health Act: increasing choice, reducing compulsion.  London.


Project (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Health Policy

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills