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Globalising mental health: a neo‐liberal project

Sami Timimi (Based at the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust and University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Article publication date: 15 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The paper's aim is to review how relevant the World Health Organisation's Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) initiative is to mental health care in non‐Western societies.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides a review of the programme and its relevance to mental health care by drawing on available literature and evidence.

Findings

mhGAP promotes the idea that mental health problems exist as problems within individuals, that they represent a substantial, though largely hidden, proportion of the world's overall disease burden, and that mental health services need scaling up across the globe to improve outcomes. However, mental health outcomes do not appear any better in those countries with the most developed services and the initiative does not seem to properly engage an evidence base that is at odds with the direction of travel the initiative recommends.

Originality/value

The paper explores these contradictions and argues that, whether intentional or not, mhGAP reflects and is part of the global neo‐liberal economic system and functions largely to expand the market for a particularly Western approach to understanding mental distress.

Keywords

Citation

Timimi, S. (2011), "Globalising mental health: a neo‐liberal project", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 155-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/17570981111249293

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited