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2012 Advanced Study Institute

Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University
Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry

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

July 5 - 7, 2012
Montreal, Québec

Advanced Study Institute Workshop (July 5 - 7, 2012)

The 2012_ASI_Conference_Program is now available.

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, Joop de Jong, Byron Good, Kwame McKenzie, Harry Minas, Mark Nichter, Vikram Patel, William Sax, Rachel Tribe, Derek Summerfield

McGill Faculty
Ellen Corin, Jaswant Guzder, Laurence J. Kirmayer, Marc Laporta, Ashok Malla, Duncan Pedersen, Cécile Rousseau, Monica Ruiz-Casares, Rob Whitley