Clinically applied anthropology I: Critical perspectives on mental health theory and practice in India

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This stimulating and provocative module is an advanced course that highlights the importance of critical and cultural perspectives in dealing with public mental health challenges in working with those who live at the ‘margins’ of society in India. The course is unique in that it will bring clinicians and social scientists together - allowing for both dialogue and mutual learning. It aims to redress the consequences of applying a minority Euro-American psychiatry to the majority world. This will include consideration of historical & contemporary, theoretical and applied, issues. Students will learn how to unpack presumed universal mental categories such as emotion and cognition as applicable in India. Through illustrative case studies and clinical vignettes, the course will critically examine and attempt to reformulate received theories in the field of marginality and mental health to address outcomes of relevance to social scientists, clinicians and the community. The focus of the course will be on close engagement with specific projects that participants are involved in, whether as researchers or practitioners or development specialists. Through this course, participants will get a glimpse into the cultural variations in the field of mental health, with specific emphasis on South Asia in general and India in particular. Key questions that will be addressed in the course include: 1) How do we bridge academic engagement and applied work in mental health research and practice at the margins of society? 2) What specific approaches can be drawn from anthropology for application in mental health research and practice? Readings will include case studies from the field, contemporary research in cultural psychiatry, medical anthropology, and public health. The course will be taught through didactic seminars, video-films, skills based workshops and small group exercises.