Re-examining the ‘global’ in global mental health: African understandings of mental disorder and intellectual disability


  • Dr Camillia Kong

    Birkbeck, University of London

Project summary

Biogenetic approaches to psychiatry are often treated as universally valid and applicable to different cultural settings, yet cultural meanings and practices around mental health and intellectual disability vary across the world. In Africa, non-biomedical explanatory models are often used to explain the causes and symptoms of, and meaning of recovery from, mental and neurodevelopmental disorder. Such differences are often acknowledged in global mental health research and practice, but systematic engagement and dialogue between biomedical and non-biomedical models of mental health are lacking.  

We will establish an interdisciplinary network of researchers based in the UK, Ghana, and South Africa, to explore the practical, theoretical, and ethical significance of divergent models of mental health, recovery  and its conceptual underpinnings in notions of personhood and genetic identity.

Our research will explore ways in which African approaches may contribute to a truly ‘global’ lens to mental health.