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Rethinking mental health care

Vikram Patel
FMedSci Professor of International Mental Health and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow in Clinical Science
Date and Time: 
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 12:30

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


Innovations in global mental health have focused on addressing the ‘supply side’ barriers to reduce the treatment gap and, in doing so, have redefined core assumptions regarding mental health care. However, such innovations alone will not reduce the treatment gap because of the gap between the understanding of mental disorder that mental health specialists use and how the rest of the world conceptualizes psychological suffering. This talk describes our attempt to bridge this ‘credibility’ gap in three ways: by distinguishing mental disorders that could benefit from biomedical interventions from milder distress states; by offering interventions for distress states mainly through low intensity psychosocial interventions delivered outside the formal health care system; and by basing the descriptions of diagnostic categories on the patterns of phenomena observed in general populations, rather than those observed in specialist settings.


Vikram Patel, Ph.D (born May 5, 1964) is an Indian psychiatrist and researcher best known for his work on child development and mental disability in low-resource settings. He is the Co-Founder and former Director of the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Co-Director of the Centre for Control of Chronic Conditions at the Public Health Foundation of India, and the Co-Founder of Sangath, an Indian NGO dedicated to research in the areas of child development, adolescent health, and mental health. In April 2015, he was listed as one of the world's 100 most influential people by TIME magazine.