Skip to main content

Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: People

Pia Noel

Pia Noel
Pia Noel
Social Anthropology
4.15 Edinburgh UK
Research Interests
Medical Anthropology, Global Mental Health, Nepal and the Himalaya, Medical pluralism, Development and Humanitarian Aid, Transcultural psychiatry, Anthropology of psychiatry, International development, Public health, Disability Studies

PhD Working title 

The Interplay Between 'Need' and 'Response': An ethnographic multi-stakeholder response analysis to mental distress in post-disaster urban Nepal.

Abstract (Work in progress) 

Concerns about the psychological suffering and wellbeing of populations worldwide have heightened recently within global communities, particularly focusing on low and middle-income countries. Indeed, mental health goals are part of global health and development agendas and countries are being monitored to uphold universal human rights standards for persons with disability, including psychosocial disability. Alongside these global concerns, there was an unprecedented attention to mental health and psychosocial (MHPS) needs and influx of resources going into MHPS support in Nepal after the 2015 earthquakes. I did 14 months of fieldwork in Kathmandu: the hub and motor of modern mental health discourse and practice in order to ethnographically explore why, and how, is a ‘modern’ mental health community/sector being socially produced in Kathmandu. In a hyper-political context saturated by development projects since the 1950s, characterized by rapid social change and ambitions of modernity, my thesis intends to examine the macro and micro politics at play around ‘mental health and psychosocial’ rhetoric and involvement in Kathmandu today.


Professor Ian Harper

Dr. Sumeet Jain 


Wellcome Trust Society & Ethics Doctoral Studentship


2016 – present PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh

2015 – 2016     MSc in Global Mental Health, University of Glasgow                      

2009 – 2013     MA Psychology & Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews


Cork, C., White, R. G., Noel, P., & Bergin, N. (2018). Randomized Controlled Trials of Interventions Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review. Trauma, Violence & Abuse.

Noel, P., Cork, C., & White, R. G. (2018). Social capital and mental health in post-disaster/conflict contexts: a systematic review. Disaster medicine and public health preparedness, 1-12.

Noel, P. (2018) [Review of the book The Patient Multiple: An Ethnography of Healthcare and Decision-making in Bhutan. Jonathan Taee, New York: Berghahn Press, 2017, 220 pp.] Medical Anthropology Quarterly DOI: 10.1111/maq.12425

Babalola, E., Noel, P., & White, R. (2017). The biopsychosocial approach and global mental health: Synergies and opportunities. Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry33(4), 291.

Conference Presentations

Noel, P. (2015). Learning from a local response to mental distress in urban Nepal to inform policy and improve practice. Presented at the European Association of Social Anthropologists Conference “Anthropology and Global Health: interrogating theory, policy and practice”. 

Edinburgh Center for Medical Anthropology 

Part of EdCMA (Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology)