Rebalancing Power in Global Mental Health
On Friday 22nd March the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) marked its 10-year anniversary. In recognition of 10 years working within the area of global mental health, the Centre co-hosted a symposium at LSHTM with Fracarita International and CBM International to critically deliberate the status of unequal power structures in the field and how these differences can be rebalanced.
Rebalancing Power in Global Mental Health Symposium
“It’s also important to see what is happening in the region in terms of the local factors in place apart from the global effort. We will require to see questions about how the biological, psychological and social interactions also need to be taken into account. The dominant parody in mental health needs to be changing and needs to take into account additional interpretations each local culture will have regarding the suffering associated with mental disorders.”
- Brother Jimi Huayta-Riviera, Director Fracarita Latin America
The event explored the historical control of the global north in dominating narratives within research and evidence, capacity-building, policy frameworks and global recommendations. The symposium invited mental health leaders and advocates from the Global South to challenge and explore how knowledge systems can be democratised to meaningfully integrate a broader range of perspectives and to discuss how best to create a more bi-directional flow of knowledge between the regions.
“One of the biggest issue is that thousands of us are still locked up in institutions… the respect of our decision-making is one of the biggest problems in mental health. One of the biggest problems that I want to address is that the health workers, the psychiatrists instead of being those who support us become our biggest barrier to be involved and included in society as they are the ones who decide if I am mentally fit or not.”
- Yeni Rosa Demayanti, Indonesian Mental Health Association
Speakers from the Indonesian Mental Health Association, Queen Mary University in London, Fracarita Latin America, Strongheart and Mentally Aware Nigeria shared their perspectives around how priorities in global mental health need to be shaped by key Southern actors and historically marginalised groups such as people with long-term physical and mental health care needs, women, children and adolescents.
“We need to now build out from the coalition of the willing; young people are acutely aware of and frustrated by the challenges of implementing mental health reforms and the lack of sustained progress that’s evident in the global south and so are ready and willing to champion the push for better. We are ready, willing and raring to go!”
- Victor Ugo, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative
Funding was also gratefully received from the Embassy of Belgium to the United Kingdom and the Representation of the Flanders Region.