Decolonizing Global Mental Health: The Psychiatrization of the Majority World
By China Mills
Series: Concepts for Critical Psychology
Decolonizing Global Mental Health is a book that maps a strange irony. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Movement for Global Mental Health are calling to ‘scale up’ access to psychological and psychiatric treatments globally, particularly within the global South. Simultaneously, in the global North, psychiatry and its often chemical treatments are coming under increased criticism (both from those who take the medication and those in the position to prescribe it). Yet both of these calls – to increase access to psychiatric interventions, and to abolish psychiatric diagnostic systems and to acknowledge the harm caused by some medications – are made on the basis of human rights.
This book charts the creeping of psychology and psychiatry across the borders of everyday experience and across geographical borders, as a form of colonialism that comes from within and from outside, swallowed in the form of a pill. It maps an anxious space where socio-economic crises come to be reconfigured as individual crisis – as ‘mental illness’; and how potentially violent interventions come to be seen as ‘essential’ treatment.
The book argues that it is imperative to explore what counts as evidence within Global Mental Health, and offers a space for alternative evidence to speak to and interrogate the urge to expand psychiatric and psychological services in the global South. It leads us to wonder whether we should call for equality in global access to psychiatry, whether everyone should have the right to a psychotropic citizenship, and whether mental health can, or should, be global. Decolonizing Global Mental Health will be ideal reading for students and researchers in the fields of transcultural and critical psychology and psychiatry, social and health psychology, cultural studies, public health and social work. ABOUT THE AUTHOR China Mills is a researcher looking into social isolation as a missing dimension of poverty, at Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), at the University of Oxford. Her research interests span interdisciplinary approaches to exploring the interconnections between Global Mental Health, psychiatry, the pharmaceutical industry and colonialism. She is keen to develop collaborative research into social determinants of distress, and structural approaches to rethink and increase well-being, particularly in contexts of poverty within the global South and North.