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Join 40,000 people around the world to learn more about mental health – University of Reading

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Join 40,000 people around the world to learn more about mental health

Release Date 09 May 2017

Charlie Waller Institute


A free online course teaching the basics of depression and anxiety, and exploring cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), will be running again after seeing more than 40,000 people across the world enrol.


The University of Reading’s course starts on the 5th June and aims to improve an understanding of depression and anxiety and explores CBT as a treatment. Learners will be able to describe the key symptoms of depression and anxiety and determine how the disorders differ from other emotions, such as feeling low or worried.


The course further studies the stereotypes surrounding anxiety and depression, particularly in the media and among family and friends. Participants will finally look at assessment tools and the CBT approach. Reading’s course is aimed at anyone with an interest in mental health, including those who have experience or are experiencing anxiety and/or depression, family and friends of those experiencing the disorders, and of course healthcare professionals.


Professor Shirley Reynolds, Director of the Charlie Waller Institute at the University of Reading, said:

“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to engage with people from all over the world to discuss depression and anxiety, and CBT, the leading evidence-based psychological treatment. It is important to stress that this is not online treatment. But if you are thinking of having CBT or have a friend or family member who is, we hope it will help you make a more informed decision and get the most out of treatment.”


Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn, commented:

“Mental Health is a huge challenge in the UK and worldwide, so we feel it is vital to address this issue. We’re very proud of the fact that our partners, the University of Reading and Monash University, not only raise awareness of the issue, but also offer techniques to combat the problem. Learners will be able to benefit from FutureLearn’s social community, where sharing insight and personal experiences about such a sensitive yet prevalent issue, has never been so important.”



The course is one of several courses offered by online course provider FutureLearn, alongside a course on mindfulness created with Monash University, which explains how mindfulness works and teaches learners how to incorporate mindfulness practices into their lifestyles, thereby reducing stress in order to improve learners’ personal and professional lives.


During the course, learners will explore the origins of mindfulness, looking at the latest research, as well as practical techniques. Learners will also explore the benefits of having a curious mind and the impact of the practice on memory and learning. People will also have the chance to understand ways that they can manage stress in order to learn and perform better. Learners will finally progress to look at the impact of mindfulness on communication and relationships, as well as understanding how to adopt mindfulness as a way of life. 

By the end of the course, learners will be able to:

  • Identify causes of stress and poor performance in their lifestyles
  • Develop a range of mindfulness techniques that are effective in their personal, academic and professional lives
  • Evaluate the impact of a variety of mindfulness techniques on wellbeing and performance
  • Model a more mindful approach to work, study and life

Associate Professor Craig Hassed at Monash University, added:

“The modern world is becoming faster, more pressured, distracted and disconnected. This comes at a significant cost as far as mental and emotional wellbeing, relationships, performance and errors are concerned. We need strategies to help us not only cope with the modern world but to help us thrive, connect and make greater use of our potential. Mindfulness is an ancient approach to fostering greater well-being, deep insight, clarity and effective functioning. This course on mindfulness will provide a useful introduction into the background, rationale and some of the research on mindfulness but, more importantly, how to apply it in ways that are meaningful to learners.”

As with all FutureLearn courses, learners will be able to take the courses for free or upgrade for a fee to receive additional benefits.




About FutureLearn
Founded by The Open University in 2012, FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform, enabling online learning through conversation. With over 6 million registered learners from over 190 countries across the globe - a community that is continuously growing - it offers free and paid for online courses from world-leading UK and international universities, as well as organisations such as Microsoft, the British Council and Cancer Research UK. FutureLearn’s course portfolio covers a wealth of areas to promote lifelong learning for a range of applications including general interest, an introduction to university studies, continuing professional development and fully online postgraduate degrees.



According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health and behavioural problems, such as depression and anxiety, are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide. The foundation states that 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental health issue. They further state that poor mental health is one of the biggest issues in the workplace today, causing over 70 million working days to be lost each year. 

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