Mental Health Dissertation Topics

Suicide and Self-harm

Whilst this topic can be destressing, it is very important that it is researched and investigated. If you know you are interested in examining this topic but are not sure where to start, maybe these suggestions can help:


Example suicide and self-harm dissertation topic 1:

Measuring suicidal intent amongst those who survive overdoses.

Conscious of the array of ethical research safeguards that will need to be in place prior to primary research being undertaken for this dissertation, this is nevertheless a fascinating subject area within the field. Using face-to-face and focus group interviews, this study will contextualise existing secondary literature with the actual accounts of 30 people who have survived deliberate overdoses and live within Wolverhampton. Through assessing the answers and comments garnered the researcher seeks to evaluate the extent to which the overdoses administered were realistic attempts to end life rather than being cries for help.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Brown, G. K., Ten Have, T., Henriques, G. R., Xie, S. X., Hollander, J. E. and Beck, A. T. (2005). Cognitive therapy for the prevention of suicide attempts. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 294(5), pp. 563-570.
  • Hawton, K. (2002). Studying survivors of nearly lethal suicide attempts: an important strategy in suicide research. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 32, pp. 76-84.
  • Holmstrand, C., Nim�us, A. and Tr�skman-Bendz, L. (2006). Risk factors of future suicide in suicide attempters-a comparison between suicides and matched survivors. Nordic journal of psychiatry, 60(2), pp. 162-167.

Anxiety & Depression

This topic is a great topic to choose for your dissertation as there are many different avenues that could be explored! Take a look at some of our suggestions below:

Example anxiety & depression dissertation topic 1:

Lowered self-esteem, depression, and in need of help: An assessment of the effects upon lone carers of mentally disabled spouses.

Increasingly socially isolated and without access to full-time professional support services, full-time carers can, as this study demonstrates, start to feel overwhelmed and resentful as a consequence of the burden of care placed upon them. Interviewing care profession also restrained by increasingly tight budgets and the carers themselves this is a qualitative piece of primary research that seeks to tell the ‘human story’ of the lives of carers. Geographically specific, it is envisaged that this study will involve interviewing 30 full-time carers of spouses with mental health disabilities in Rotherham. It is further envisaged that the findings from this research will, with the suggestions thereafter proffered to improve the ‘working-conditions’ of carers help to shape future government policies in this sensitive area of personal care.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bookwala, J., Yee, J. L. and Schulz, R. (2000). Caregiving and detrimental mental and physical health outcomes. In, Williamson, G.M., Shaffer D.R. and Parmelee, P.A. (eds), Physical illness and depression in older adults: A handbook of theory, research, and practice. New York: Plenum, pp. 93-131.
  • Cummins, R. A. (2001). The subjective well-being of people caring for a family member with a severe disability at home: a review. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 26(1), pp. 83-100.
  • Gray, B., Robinson, C. A., Seddon, D. and Roberts, A. (2008). An emotive subject: insights from social, voluntary and healthcare professionals into the feelings of family carers for people with mental health problems. Health & Social Care in the Community, 17(2), pp. 125-132.

Eating Disorders

This topic can pave the way for a fascinating dissertation, whether you are interested in the way body image is reviewed in society or traumatic experiences which may trigger eating disorders, you could form a very good topic for your dissertation by choosing eating disorders to focus on. Take a look at some examples:


Example eating disorder dissertation topic 1:

Body image perceptions amongst sportsmen with bulimia nervosa.

Concentrating on those professional sportsmen who suffer ridicule in the press due to their fluctuations in their weight, and respond to such pressures by developing bulimia nervosa, this is a dissertation that combines the theory and practice of mental health with real life situations. Interviewing health care professionals as well as professional sportsmen who have suffered from (or are still suffering with) bulimia nervosa, this dissertation will not only comment on societal triggers but also proffer an array of agency-based intervention approaches that could be used, given the responses received from suffers, to further aid recovery.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Baum, A. (2006). Eating disorders in the male athlete. Sports Medicine, 36(1), pp. 1-6.
  • Haase, A. M., Prapavessis, H. and Glynn Owens, R. (2002). Perfectionism, social physique anxiety and disordered eating: A comparison of male and female elite athletes. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 3(3), pp. 209-222.
  • Sundgot-Borgen, J. and Torstveit, M. K. (2004). Prevalence of eating disorders in elite athletes is higher than in the general population. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 14(1), pp. 25.

The Media

Mental health is represented in the media in many different ways, recently the importance of mental health has come to light and people are becoming more and more aware that they should take care of their mental health. Exploring the good and the bad ways that mental health is represented could be the way to go:

Example mental health in the media dissertation topic 1:

A study of the longer-term psychological effects of divorce upon the adult children of divorcees.

Media attention following the fall from grace of the former cabinet minister Chris Huhne, has made especial note of the role that his son played in alerting the police and media to his father’s illegal action. Noting thoughts of ‘revenge’ and ‘hatred’ as a consequence of the betrayal of his mother, newspapers have highlighted the psychological impact that divorce can have especially on boys when they feel that their mothers have been betrayed by the actions of their fathers. Reviewing existing secondary literature and conducting primary interviews amongst both female and male students at the University of Portsmouth whose parents have divorced, this study will chart, using a Likert scale, the different recorded psychological effects of divorce on a sample group of 20. Though a small scale study, the results will be contextualised via reference to the secondary literature making this a relevant study upon a contemporary issue raised by the media.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Amato, P. R. (2004). The consequences of divorce for adults and children. Journal of marriage and family, 62(4), pp. 1269-1287.
  • Brennan, K. A. and Shaver, P. R. (2002). Attachment styles and personality disorders: Their connections to each other and to parental divorce, parental death, and perceptions of parental caregiving. Journal of Personality, 66(5), pp. 835-878.
  • Furstenberg, F. F. and Kiernan, K. E. (2004). Delayed parental divorce: How much do children benefit?. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(2), pp. 446-457.

Mental Health in Society

Maybe you would be more interested in the way people suffering with mental health disabilities are treated and viewed by society. This is a popular topic and would be a great way to go for your dissertation. Take a look at some options below:


Example mental health in society dissertation topic 1:

A review of the psychological well-being of people with mental health disabilities who secure full-time employment.

The change from unemployed to employed status can be stressful as a consequence of the return of a formulaic structure to days, heightened expectations, and tiredness. For those with mental health disabilities the short-term effects of such changes can be even more challenging. In addition, now that firms such as REMPLOY have closed, the focus of opportunities for disabled persons to find work has shifted even more markedly in favour of the private sector. Against this backdrop and the economic realities of the longest depression since the 1930s, this dissertation evaluates the changing psychological well-being of six people who secure full-time work placements over a three month period. Conducting interviews prior to them commencing their new employment it charts their fears, anxieties and expectations as they progress from being ‘in possession of start date’ through their first three months of work – interviewing them at monthly intervals. This is a challenging dissertation that combines theory with practice and a number of ethical research issues.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Becker, D. R. and Drake, R. E. (2003). A working life for people with severe mental illness. Oxford University Press, USA.
  • Becker, D. R., Drake, R. E. and Naughton, W. J. (2005). Supported employment for people with co-occurring disorders. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 28(4), pp. 332-338.
  • Drake, R. E. and Bond, G. R. (2008). The future of supported employment for people with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 31(4), pp. 367-376.

Children & Young People

Mental health amongst children & young people is a very popular topic and can be approached from lots of different angles. We have put together some suggestions which may help you narrow down your topic:


Example children & young people dissertation topic 1:

An assessment of the thought processes recorded by child arsonists with especial reference to those in foster care.

This is a cutting edge research proposal. It combines issues of mental health, community care, the role and responsibilities of fostering agencies and foster carers as well issues of criminal responsibility and the safeguarding of individuals. Working with disturbed children in residential and foster care within Solihull, this is a dissertation that will require a very solid knowledge of how to conduct ethical research involving minors and the data protection responsibilities that such research entails. Using both primary and secondary research this is a dissertation in which it is envisaged that a range of interviewing techniques will be used (semi-structured, face to face, group facilitation) so as to maximise the potential of the researcher to elicit valuable information out of both child arsonists, their carers, and the others who are affected by their actions (as well as agency professionals).

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Franklin, G. A., Pucci, P. S., Arbabi, S., Brandt, M. M., Wahl, W. L. and Taheri, P. A. (2002). Decreased juvenile arson and firesetting recidivism after implementation of a multidisciplinary prevention program. The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 53(2), pp. 260-266.
  • Hickle, K. E. and Roe-Sepowitz, D. E. (2010). Female juvenile arsonists: An exploratory look at characteristics and solo and group arson offences. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15(2), pp. 385-399.
  • Palmer, E. J., Caulfield, L. S. and Hollin, C. R. (2007). Interventions with arsonists and young fire setters: A survey of the national picture in England and Wales. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 12(1), pp. 101-116.

Example children & young people dissertation topic 2:

‘Coming out’ amongst Muslim lesbian teenagers: a qualitative assessment of the additional mental stresses that faith places upon Muslim lesbian teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality within their culture.

Building upon existing secondary literature relating to the mental health difficulties that teenagers who are gay, bisexual, transsexual, or lesbian, may endure, this dissertation will interview 10 young Muslim women who have had the additional pressure of ‘coming out’ within a community based upon traditional family families and in which issues relating to ‘honour killings’ still remain. Working closely with support agency personnel in Bradford, this is a dissertation that combines issues of sexuality with the theories and practices of mental health in a dynamic cultural vortex. A number of ethical research issues will arise in the preparation of this study and the writer will need to be fully aware of how to undertake primary research that conforms to the ethical responsibilities expected within universities.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Carr, S. (2008). Sexuality and religion: A challenge for diversity strategies in UK social care service development and delivery. Diversity in Health and Social Care, 5(2), pp. 113-122.
  • Yip, A. K. T. (2008). The quest for intimate/sexual citizenship: lived experiences of lesbian and bisexual Muslim women. Contemporary Islam, 2(2), pp. 99-117.
  • McCarthy, S. K. (2008). The adjustment of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) older adolescents who experience minority stress: The role of religious coping, struggle, and forgiveness. Doctoral dissertation, Bowling Green State University, OH.

Physical Health

The correlation between physical health and mental health has always been an interesting subject. If you would like to investigate it further, take a look at some of our examples below:


Example physical health dissertation topic 1:

A qualitative study assessing coping with uncertainty amongst women at risk of familial breast cancer.

Whilst there exists a glut of academic research focusing on breast cancer and the need for early diagnosis, there has been less study carried out on the mental anguish faced by those women who grow up in families with a history of the disease. Working with three generations of women in four families, this qualitative study seeks to address this gap in existing knowledge and understanding. This is a dissertation that would ideally suit a student with an interest in family psychology as well as mental health and will require advanced skills in the arena of empathy, tact and diplomacy.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Hopwood, P. (2005). Psychosocial aspects of risk communication and mutation testing in familial breast-ovarian cancer. Current opinion in oncology, 17(4), pp. 340-344.
  • Nordin, K., Liden, A., Hansson, M., Rosenquist, R. and Berglund, G. (2002). Coping style, psychological distress, risk perception, and satisfaction in subjects attending genetic counselling for hereditary cancer. Journal of medical genetics, 39(9), pp. 689-694.
  • Rees, G., Fry, A., Cull, A. and Sutton, S. (2004). Illness perceptions and distress in women at increased risk of breast cancer. Psychology & Health, 19(6), pp. 749-765.


The study of phobias is a very intriguing subject. Whether you are interested in a certain phobia or how they develop, this could be the topic for you!


Example phobia dissertation topic 1:

Avoidance techniques amongst the elderly suffering from agoraphobia: a study of cognitive determinants.

Focusing upon the low-land border area of Scotland, this dissertation applies issues of cognitive determination to both a specific fear and to a specific subsection of the population. Fear of not being able to escape from a given environment or of being unable to call for assistance in such a situation, is particularly relevant to older people as they may be increasingly isolated, dependent upon others and lonely. This is, accordingly, a dissertation that could also be addressed in a manner that would enable the role of a variety of agencies to be evaluated as well as the very real fears experienced by individual people. This is a dissertation that would be ideally suited to someone who wishes to forge a career in mental health with the elderly.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Carmin, C. N., Wiegartz, P. S. and Scher, C. (2000). Anxiety disorders in the elderly. Current Psychiatry Reports, 2(1), pp. 13-19.
  • Flint, A. J. and Gagnon, N. (2003). Diagnosis and management of panic disorder in older patients. Drugs & Aging, 20(12), pp. 881-891.
  • Hackmann, A. (2004). Agoraphobia: clinical features and treatment strategies. Psychiatry, 3(5), pp. 47-50.

Learning Disabilities

An interesting subject to look into in regards to mental health are learning disabilities. The following are just a few topic suggestions in this area to get you started:


Example learning disabilities dissertation topic 1:

An analysis of current best practice relating to the safeguarding of the vulnerable and ensuring against inappropriate sexual behaviour amongst people with learning disabilities who reside within residential care facilities.

This is a dissertation that will combine existing secondary data with a series of interviews with existing staff at residential care facilities in the west of England – in particular, Devon. Instances of such abuse have, as has been noted in the press, risen alarmingly over the last 8 years and accordingly, this is a dissertation that taps into a growing body of evidence and a developing area of academic concern within the wider field. Discretion and a strict adherence to ethical research guidelines will be needed by the undertaker of this proposal and it would be useful, though not essential, if the writer had some practical experience of having volunteered in (or worked within) a residential facility.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Brown, H. (2002). Safeguarding adults and children with disabilities against abuse. Council of Europe.
  • McEachern, A. G. (2012). Sexual Abuse of Individuals with Disabilities: Prevention Strategies for Clinical Practice. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 21(4), pp. 386-398.
  • Oosterhoorn, R. and Kendrick, A. (2001). No sign of harm: issues for disabled children communicating about abuse. Child Abuse Review, 10(4), pp. 243-253.

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