In The Movement for Global Mental Health: Critical Views from South and Southeast Asia, prominent anthropologists, public health physicians, and psychiatrists respond sympathetically but critically to the Movement for Global Mental Health (MGMH). They question some of its fundamental assumptions: the idea that "mental disorders" can clearly be identified; that they are primarily of biological origin; that the world is currently facing an "epidemic" of them; that the most appropriate treatments for them normally involve psycho-pharmaceutical drugs; and that local or indigenous therapies are of little interest or importance for treating them. The contributors argue that, on the contrary, defining "mental disorders" is difficult and culturally variable; that social and biographical factors are often important causes of them; that the "epidemic" of mental disorders may be an effect of new ways of measuring them; and that the countries of South and Southeast Asia have abundant, though non-psychiatric, resources for dealing with them. In short, they advocate a thoroughgoing mental health pluralism.
About the Editors:
William S. ('Bo') Sax studied at Banaras Hindu University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Washington (Seattle), and the University of Chicago, and has taught at Harvard University, the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the South Asia Institute in Heidelberg. He has published extensively on pilgrimage, gender, theater, aesthetics, ritual healing and medical anthropology.
Claudia Lang is currently an associate professor (Heisenberg) of anthropology at University of Leipzig, Germany. Before, she was a postdoctoral researcher in Paris, France. She works on the anthropology of health in India and has published on different topics, including depression, traditional medicine, mental health, psychiatry, religion and ritual, health governance and subjectivities. She is currently working on the digitization of mental health and on environmental health.