Chevron Left
Back to The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness

Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness by University of Toronto

484 ratings

About the Course

Learn how social factors promote mental health, influence the onset and course of mental illness, and affect how mental illnesses are diagnosed and treated. This course explores how our understanding of mental health and illness has been influenced by social attitudes and social developments in North America and around the world. The course begins by situating our contemporary mental health practices in historical context, then looks at different aspects of mental health, mental illness and mental health services and their connections to what’s going on in our social environment....

Top reviews


Sep 27, 2020

A very enlightening course. This opened my eyes a lot more to what Mental health is all about and how patients with diverse mental illness struggle through their journey to healing and recovery.


Apr 4, 2021

This course was excllent! Charmaine Williams created a well-rounded and easy to follow course that really helped me to think critically about the way our society interacts with mental health.

Filter by:

1 - 25 of 179 Reviews for The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness

By Dean M

Jan 21, 2018

Needs to be updated. Everything is prior to 2013 data when the DSM has been updated

By Fatima L

May 25, 2021

I finished this course with a greater confidence in understanding mental health and illness in any given context. The multi-dimensional approach (biopsychosocial perspective that includes familial and spiritual and cultural) taught in the course is an incredibly powerful tool in acquiring a truly holistic understanding of mental health.

To address some of the negative reviews posted here:

"The course is useful only for people who live and work in Canada" This is NOT true. Prof Williams talks about numerous examples (together with reading materials) coming from experiences in North America, India, Africa and Asia. Students are always asked to consider their own social contexts in their writing assignments.

"The course is outdated because it is based on based on DSM-IV" A section of the course (2013) deals with the history of the DSM, while some examples were taken from the latest DSM at that time (DSM-IV), Prof WIlliams was always clear that DSM-V was forthcoming and in fact, she included a video talking about DSM-V when it came out in 2014.

"The course felt more like a commentary, than actually learning about certain topics" The course is not just about learning about "certain topics." The course is more valuable than that. It is about thinking critically and thinking in context.

Also, Prof Williams includes her own ideas and research in the course. I LOVE THAT. I love a teacher who has original ideas and research, based on their own rich experiences in the field. They are not just "instructors."

Some were unhappy with the peer-reviewed written assignments. I am happy with them and find them appropriate to the very nature and purpose of the course. You need to show that you understood what context is and how to actually think about mental health in context, especially in your own social context. A quiz won't help with that.

Thank you, Prof Williams, UoT, Coursera and everyone involved!

By Katerina M

Aug 24, 2020

Very dissappointing course. It is outdated. It is evident that it was created in 2013 and has not been updated since then. As a consequence, it refers to disorders that don't exist any longer in the current taxonomies and is based on DSM-IV althouth the DSM-5 was released 7 years ago!

By Yomna Z

May 27, 2019

it is indeed a good and rich course. but i didn't like the idea of a) peer graded assignments and b) not having exams on each part so that we could feel the sense of a real course not just a huge amount of information without evaluating how much did we understand from it.

By Dorothy H

Sep 21, 2017

This course I think would really only be pertinent for people who live and work in Canada or who would want to or are very interested in this subject as it relates to Canada's history and practice.

The name should be: The Social Context of mental Health and Illness in Canada.

By Oran B

Nov 10, 2016

I am currently in my second year of counselling and I found this course really helpful to understand the social impact of mental health and illness. The course is very informative, with excellent learning resources. I have recommended this course my peers, I am a full-time teacher, as a way of understanding the extended context of our learners.

I thoroughly enjoyed to course and would take any other course taught by Charmaine. Her teaching style and passion for subject knowledge hand me hooked on the course right from the start!

By Tempe L

Apr 5, 2021

This course was excllent! Charmaine Williams created a well-rounded and easy to follow course that really helped me to think critically about the way our society interacts with mental health.

By Amarachi C W

Sep 28, 2020

A very enlightening course. This opened my eyes a lot more to what Mental health is all about and how patients with diverse mental illness struggle through their journey to healing and recovery.

By Fini S E

Apr 27, 2020

It was a great learning experience, I gained a lot of information that will be of great benefit to me in my social work carrier. I will definitely recommend this course to my friends.

By Joseph C

Jun 16, 2020

An amazingly enriching course from beginning to end. The social context used in the course is based on a global perspective, touches on a wide variety of social dynamics (such as feminism, modern day colonialism, theory of gender, and ableism) and delivered in an interesting, encouraging and light-hearted manner. Professor Williams shares with you a fair and insightful critique on modern understanding of mental health and illness and on how we arrived to where we are today. I would highly recommend this course to professionals and beginners alike. Thank you Professor Williams!

By Roberto

Mar 1, 2021

This course and its references are almost mandatory for those who seek to understand how the social context of a given society influences on the emergence, diagnosis, treatment and recovery of mental illnesses. Furthermore, it also gives insights on how a person can have a diagnosis of mental illness and still be mentally healthy and vice versa. I am sure that all information provided is able to improve one's approach to mental health and illness in academic, professional and social levels.

By Nicola J

Apr 29, 2019

I found this course very interesting and engaging. It looks at how mental health and illness are socially constructed and how this can lead to stigmatisation and negative outcomes for the person with a mental health condition. The other side of the coin shows how when support networks are in place and when mental disorders are de-stigmatised the outcomes for many people are considerably improved. My thanks to the educator and course organisers for this informative course.

By Renee K

Jan 14, 2021

I enjoyed this course from beginning to end and the whole journey of learning about the social context of mental illness has made me have a broader aspect, As I may delve in and learn more in psychology. I'd highly recommend anybody interested in the social aspect of psychology. Great course and Thank you Lecturer Charmaine Williams for making the course very interesting.

By Uxue G

Apr 19, 2021

I found the course very interesting and entertaining. I consider that in each week I have learned something and that they are all very well distributed in terms of materials. I consider that I have learned a lot and that we have dealt with topics that, although they are more distant, have also been useful to me

By HyeJin S

Feb 27, 2017

An amazing course! Dr Williams is a great and engaging lecturer, and the information is presented extremely well. Furthermore, the content is very interesting and adds aspect rarely touched in other courses on mental health, such as cultural aspects and effects of colonialism.

By Oscar A

Aug 19, 2020

This is a very interesting and eye opening course. Professor Williams explained in such a way that students like me with zero knowledge could understand and be interested. Highly recommended.

By Steven Z F

Nov 10, 2016

I like this course, it helps me a lot during my master of social work application season.

By Prompiriya P

Jul 21, 2020

While this course is informative, some of the information is outdated because the course is made long ago. Furthermore, lecturer talks very fast while often stumbling with words or sometimes accidentally uses the incorrect term in one video before addressing it in the following videos which makes it confusing. Overall I don't enjoy listening to the lecture compared to many other courses. And if you can find courses with updated information, go for it instead.

By amanda f

Aug 30, 2021

I was distressed by how out of date much of the presented information was, and unhappy that sourced materials were unavailable because of outdated links. I would not recommend this course.

By Tam M K C

Oct 13, 2021

Not attractive

By Aksiniia I

Jun 14, 2018


By Lorna R

Aug 15, 2022

I loved this course. This course is well organized, with lots of reading and interesting videos and extra reading.

I liked reading the transcripts over again and again after watching the videos. It was nice to see Professor Williams' words.

This is an important course. A course that challenged me to think and be critical in how the social context of mental health and illness affects my life and those in the course especially.

Courses that help me get through a tough time like this one, are great motivators and influence me very much.

How can I pay for the course certificate upon completion of the course. I would like to receive a certificate for the social context of mental health and illness course. How can I pay by cheque - Mail it to what office address. Thank you. L. Reddick

Thank you Professor Williams.

Could you let me know what courses you are teaching in the social work programme at U of T.

my email address is

By Karen B

Mar 31, 2020

Thank you to the University of Toronto and to Charmaine Williams for this very useful contextualising of mental health and illness. Having experienced a recent mental health crisis with a family member, this really helped to frame our experience in a new and valuable light. I also feel validated having responded to my experience by becoming a peer advocate teaching psychoeducation courses for carers of loved-one's with mental health difficulties in emotion regulation. It is certainly helping me, knowing that it can help others and keep strained families in tact and emotionally available to one another.

By Mamokoli S

May 26, 2022

This course was very helpful and informative as it reflected some of the critcal areas of mental and illness. It was very good to actually review the history of mental health and mental illness and how psychiatry has evolved up to this moment. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to understand the relationship between our mental welbeing and our envirioment. The social influences and myths surrounding mental health. This course is not only a mental health and social discourse but also a way of caring for ours and contributing to our communities' mrental health.

By Mouna H

May 28, 2022

An important, enriching and successful course by all standards. It was a different and unique experience so far through Coursera, where I did not have to attend or submit assignments, but I also had to participate in reading and evaluating the duties of my colleagues and expressing an opinion about them. It was difficult to understand in the beginning, especially when I come at times when I do not have enough colleagues to take this course, but it is worth the experience and I benefited a lot from it, especially after I got the required support from Coursera.

Mouna Homssi