Global Mental Health: Bridging the Perspectives of Cultural Psychiatry and Public Health

Next year’s Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry, hosted by the Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University, will be held on July 5-7, 2012 and will be devoted to global mental health. Here’s the abstract for the event:

The emerging field of global mental health aims to address the enormous disparities in mental health outcomes that beset low and middle-income countries. A growing body of research has established mental health as a priority for global health research and intervention. Significant advances have been made in identifying targets and strategies for intervention. However, there continues to be controversy and debate about the appropriate methods for establishing priorities, research themes and approaches, and modes of developing and/or adapting interventions in global mental health. In particular, there are tensions between a public health approach grounded in current evidence-based practices (which are still largely produced in high-income countries) and a culturally-based approach that emphasizes starting with local priorities, problem definitions, community resources and solutions. The cultural critique of global mental health has raised basic issues that will be explored in this workshop and conference: (1) the priorities of global mental health have been largely framed by mental health professionals and their institutional partners located in wealthy countries, and therefore reflect the dominant interests of psychiatry and may give insufficient attention to local priorities; (2) global mental health tends to assume that the major psychiatric disorders are biologically determined and therefore universal; (3) in focusing on existing evidence-based treatments, global mental health assumes that standard treatments can be readily applied across cultures with minimal adaptation; and (4) global mental health tends to emphasize mental health interventions and may marginalize indigenous forms of helping, healing, and social integration that can contribute to positive outcomes and recovery. This workshop will bring together experts in cultural psychiatry and global mental health to consider ways of bridging these perspectives. Sessions will address four broad themes: (1) setting the agenda in global mental health; (2) understanding the relationship between local and universal aspects of mental health problems; (3) developing culturally and community-based interventions; and (4) implementing and evaluating culturally and community-based interventions to foster resilience and recovery. The aim of the workshop is to develop some consensus on a research program that integrates social, cultural, primary care and public health perspectives. The one-day conference will focus on ways to generate an ongoing constructive critique of the global mental health movement to insure its goals and methods are responsive to diverse cultural contexts and communities.

The format will be a two-day workshop for researchers in these areas (July 5-6), followed by a one-day conference (July 7) oriented toward mental health practitioners and policy makers.

 Guest Faculty

Gilles Bibeau, Suman Fernando, Byron Good, Kwame McKenzie, Vikram Patel, Derek Summerfield

 McGill Faculty

Ellen Corin, Jaswant Guzder, Laurence J. Kirmayer, Ashok Malla, Duncan Pedersen, Cécile Rousseau, Rob Whitley


To register for the ASI, please complete this form.

There will be a poster session on July 7. To submit a poster, please complete the 2012 poster presentation form and send it with your application for the ASI Conference.

Registration is also now open for the Summer Program in Social and Cultural Psychiatry — which takes place next year from April 30 to June 1, 2012.