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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: EdCMA Networks


Network Launch Event Report

University of Edinburgh Global Mental Health Network
Launch Event Report

The Global Mental Health (GMH) Network at the University of Edinburgh is an initiative funded by the University of Edinburgh Academic Networking Fund. This was set up to enhance inter-disciplinary inquiry and collaboration among scholars at the University with a shared interest in global mental health as much of this type of research has been carried out in silos across diverse schools and departments.

The Network was launched with a full-day workshop on the 27th of February 2017. The format of the event was designed to share on-going Edinburgh research on GMH, start generating inter-disciplinary discussions around GMH and to bring people together from across the university to allow for networking opportunities. Speakers and attendees came from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology, Neuroscience and Biomedical Sciences, Medical Anthropology, Social Work, History and International Development; as well as from distinct levels of expertise ranging from undergraduate students to professors and clinical practitioners.

The morning was dedicated to four rounds of three and a half-minute ‘lightening talks’ for on-going research at the University to be exposed and shared in a concise and efficient manner. Presentations were grouped in chaired-panels, which allowed for inter-disciplinary conversations at the end of each round. The day traversed many different themes, including discussions regarding conceptualizations of distress from the local to the global, the importance of understanding the cultural context, the challenges of diagnostic systems and the politics of diagnosis, the importance of capacity building via teaching and training (e.g. massive open online course, local radio involvement, local conferences), the challenges of undertaking cross-cultural research, the importance of including service user voices and the critical interplay between gender, violence and mental health as well as the role of shame in mediating help-seeking behaviors. Some critical questions emerged from the discussions included: how do we understand and use local resources and sources of recovery? What local and international responses are appropriate and relevant to support wellbeing of populations after events such as a natural disaster? Who is the ‘expert’ in the field of GHM and what is the role of such experts? How do we measure recovery?

The afternoon session dedicated some time and space for informal networking and opportunities to identify synergies across disciplines. The broad themes of interest and that participants were interested in continuing talking about were: stigma; family mental health; interventions and evaluations; conceptualizations of health and illness and the practicalities of the GMH network at Edinburgh.

The network will be organizing a number of events running until June 2017, including four seminars with chaired panels. On the 2nd of March 2017, Dr. Bhargavi Davar, director of Bapu Trust, visited the University of Edinburgh, and spoke about the interplay between gender, mental health and disability in Pune, India, building on some of the themes identified at the launch. Future events will focus on themes around community vs. institutional care; human rights abuses of persons with a mental disorder or psycho-social disability and the mental health of vulnerable populations such as refugees and migrants, as well as stigma.

A copy of the programme and audio recordings of many of the presentations will be made available online via the University of Edinburgh, accessible via the Global Health Academy and the Global Mental Health research network webpage. 

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