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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Culture and Mental Health in a Global Perspective (PGSP11563)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course has two aims: to provide students with an understanding of key theoretical, conceptual, and policy debates on the interface between culture, identity, race, ethnicity and mental health, and to examine how these debates shape mental health practice and interventions in fields such as social work, psychology, psychiatry and clinical anthropology. The course draws on inter-disciplinary perspectives integrating relevant knowledge from cultural psychiatry, cultural psychology, medical anthropology, public health, and social work. Teaching will make use of case studies of innovative programmes, national and international policy reports, and ethnographic data from diverse contexts.
Course description 1) Academic Description

Mental health and well-being have emerged as important global health and social welfare policy concerns in the 'global north' and 'south'. There is increasing global and local policy emphasis on 'standardized' and 'evidence-based' approaches to mental health care that neglect two important dimensions: a) the diversity of cultural understandings of what constitutes 'mental health' and 'mental illness', and b) the complex social, cultural and political dynamics that shape psychological distress.

This proposed course is situated in the context of these on-going debates about the culturally, politically, and socially situated conceptualizations of mental health and addresses the implications of these multiple understandings for policy and practice. The course will be of interest to students entering careers in public health, medical anthropology, international development, psychology, social work and related areas.

2) Outline Content
The course will be organized around two blocks following an introductory lecture. Block 1 (weeks 2-5) will address issues in the conceptualization of 'culture' and 'mental health' including varied understandings of both terms and the interface with 'identity' and 'emotion' ; critical interrogation of debates around race, culture, cultural identity, ethnicity and mental health; consideration of current and early debates about the inter-relationships between 'psychiatric' and 'lay' categories of distress; and literature on 'bodily' and 'psychological' expressions of distress.

Block 2 (weeks 6-10) will deploy these conceptual debates to critically examine research, policy and practice issues in cross-cultural mental health: including methodological challenges in conducting cross-cultural mental health research; the so-called 'culture bound syndromes' and emergence of 'new illnesses'; approaches to addressing 'culture' in practice - i.e. inter-cultural therapy in Britain, 'cultural formulation' in the US and UK, and emergence of 'clinical anthropology'; cross-cultural understandings of 'trauma'; the challenges of addressing mental health needs of refugees and migrants (drawing primarily on Canadian and European literature from the field of transcultural psychiatry).

3) Student Learning Experience

The nature of the material probing the interfaces between cultural identities and mental health will necessitate close engagement from students. This will take place via readings, class discussion, lectures, and practical exercises applying conceptual and theoretical ideas. The course will incorporate ideas from a range of disciplines including cultural psychiatry, social work, cultural psychology and medical anthropology. Student will demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes through an assessed written or video blog and a course essay on a topic of their choice (to be approved by course organiser).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  63
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay: 80%, 3000 words
Blog or video blog: 20%
Feedback Feedback will be returned in 15 days for all assessed work. Students have the option of submitting an essay outline (unmarked).
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate conceptual understandings of the historically and culturally contextualized nature of 'mental health' and approaches to classifying and categorizing disorder and distress.
  2. Critically engage with debates around the interface between race, culture, ethnicity and mental health and illness.
  3. Apply conceptual understandings to critically examine policy and practice issues in cross-cultural mental health.
Reading List
Béhague, D. P. (2009). Psychiatry and Politics in Pelotas, Brazil: The Equivocal Quality of Conduct Disorder and Related Diagnoses. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 23(4), 455-482.

Guarnaccia, P. J., Lewis-Fernández, R., & Marano, M. R. (2003). Toward a Puerto Rican popular nosology: nervios and ataque de nervios. Culture, medicine and psychiatry, 27(3), 339¿66.

Jadhav, S. (1996). The Cultural Origins Western Depression. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 42(4), 269¿286.

Kirmayer, L. J. (2005). Culture, context and experience in psychiatric diagnosis. Psychopathology, 38(4),

Kirmayer, L. J. (2006). Beyond the "New Cross-cultural Psychiatry": Cultural Biology, Discursive Psychology and the Ironies of Globalization. Transcultural Psychiatry, 43(1), 126¿144.

Nichter, M. (2010). Idioms of distress revisited. Culture, medicine and psychiatry, 34(2), 401¿16.

Littlewood, R., & Lipsedge, M. (1997). Aliens and alienists : Ethnic minorities and psychiatry (Third ed.). London: Routledge.

Shweder, R. (2003). Why do men barbecue? : Recipes for cultural psychology. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Harvard University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Lotte Segal
Tel: (0131 6)51 7112
Course secretaryMrs Beth Richardson-Mills
Tel: (0131 6)51 1659
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