B17
Problematising 'social interventions' in global mental health: What can ethnography offer?

Convenors:
Rochelle Burgess (UCL)
Sumeet Jain (University of Edinburgh)
Clement Bayetti (Washington University in St Louis)
Chair:
Rochelle Burgess
Discussant:
Sumeet Jain
Start time:
Session slots:
0

Short abstract:

We invite ethnographic papers that explore examples of efforts to understand and problematise the 'social' and 'recovery' in global mental health and critically analyse socio-culturally valid interventions that respond to the 'big determinants' that shape mental health conditions globally.

Long abstract:

A complex assemblage of knowledge, practice, values and stakeholders, the discipline of Global Mental Health (GMH) has emerged as a crucial influence in the globalisation of mental health and its treatment. In an attempt to consolidate its position within the broader context of global development goals, efforts have recently been deployed to reframe the discipline's agenda according to the SDGs. Integral to this shift is a renewed focus on the 'big determinants' of mental health - namely poverty, inequality, and gender. This requires an ethnographic lens to develop an understanding of how to address the micro-contexts of 'social suffering'. Social interventions are recognised as crucial in facilitating this process and one's 'recovery' from mental ill health. However, what is meant by 'social' has yet to be fully problematised, with a dominant discourse that turns treatment away from the socio-structural, and towards socio-relational dynamics of well-being, ultimately leaving the contexts that frame social relationships unaddressed. Similarly, there remains a gap in our understanding of what 'recovery' from mental illnesses means across different cultures, including the broader structural and socio-cultural factors which may hinder or facilitate this process. We invite ethnographic paper from diverse fields including medical anthropology, clinically applied anthropology, public health, social work and cultural psychiatry that a) explore emerging examples of efforts to understand and problematise the notion of the 'social' and 'recovery' in global mental health and b) critically analyse socio-culturally valid interventions that provide pathways to respond to the 'big determinants' that shape mental health conditions globally.