The challenges of mental health for social science and policy

Guntars Ermansons, student in the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, introduces a report on a workshop held earlier this summer. See the full report of the workshop. (309 words)

On 19 June 2014, a workshop on “The Challenges of Mental Health for Social Science and Policy” was held at King’s College London, Waterloo Campus. Supported by the King’s Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Centre’s Science & Society initiative and organized by the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, in collaboration with the Institute of Psychiatry and Social Care Workforce Research Unit, the workshop hosted a number of distinguished speakers and experts on mental health and involved postgraduate and early career researchers.

After a welcome and introduction by Prof. John Abraham, the workshop consisted of three sections, psychiatry, social policy and social science. Opening the psychiatry session, Prof. Derek Bolton gave a talk “Are mental disorders brain disorders? Tensions in current theory and method.” and Dr. Mary DeSilva from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine presented “An Evidence Based Response to Critiques of Global Mental Health”. In the social policy session Dr. Martin Stevens presented on “Ethical questions and processes – what helps to get a study approved.” and Prof. Jill Manthorpe gave a talk entitled “Coming of Age? The curious case of adult and older mental health research.” In the closing session of social science, Prof. Nikolas Rose gave a talk on “What is Diagnosis For?” and Dr. Dominique Behague on “Researching the political and material life of diagnostic unravelling in Southern Brazilian psychiatry.”

The key theme of the workshop—the challenges of mental health—allowed for the accommodation of a wide spectrum of perspectives including psychiatry, psychology, global mental health, anthropology, gerontology and policy research. Participants had a chance to reflect on the contemporary significance, meaning and problematics of mental health as a field of research and clinical practice, while also evaluating the role that social science and policy is and can be playing in the advancement of knowledge and improvement of practice in mental health.