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Global Mental Health – UIC CME (NC)(NPF)*



This course will examine the history, interventions, and critiques of global mental health. We will explore howdiagnosis, distress, and treatment are experienced in different cultural and geographic contexts. Moreover, we will consider how biomedical psychiatry complements and conflicts with other forms of healing expertise. We will alsoconsider mental health disparities, and critically reflect on the successes and challenges of global mental healthinterventions. This course will draw on materials from different disciplines, including psychiatry, public health,social work, and anthropology to examine topics in global mental health, such gender and sexuality, migration and displacement, environmental determinants and climate change, and global crises like COVID-19. Our course materials will draw on research carried out in a variety of locations, including the United States, Kosovo, India, Zimbabwe, Brazil, and Thailand. By taking this course, future physicians will deepen their understanding of how thepresentation and experience of mental illness is shaped by social, political, cultural, and environmental contexts.Moreover, students will gain exposure to the lived experience of mental illness around the world and a variety oftreatment modalities. This course will be fully online.



  • To discover how different disciplines and specialties, such as psychiatry and social work, approach global mental



  1. To identify how culture, social context, and the environment shape experiences of and responses to mental illness.
  2. To demonstrate an awareness of innovative approaches in making therapy and mental health services more
  3. To analyze successes and limitations of mental health programs in a variety of
  4. To distinguish how biomedical psychiatry and traditional and indigenous forms of healing align and
  5. To prepare for clinical encounters where the presentation of mental illnesses may be more nuanced than described in classification systems, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).



Description of Learning Activities

This course will involve small group discussions, where students will discuss lecture material, course readings, and address complex topics in global mental health. Additionally, journal club- like activities will allow for students to explore topics in global mental health that interest them and share resources on the topic that the class will discuss. More specifically, small groups of students will select journal articles to assign to the class that we will then discusstogether.

Example Schedule

Each class session will be approximately 3 hours, and students can expect an additional 3 hours of work outside of class. Each class session will include two mini (35 minute) lectures, followed by a small group and full class discussion. Time for group work will be allotted at the end of each class session and I will be present during this time to answer the groups’ questions. 

Daily Responsibilities:

Daily responsibilities will entail consulting course materials (articles, book chapters, podcasts, films, etc.) in advance of the course sessions to which the materials correspond. Daily responsibilities also involve attending and actively participating in course lectures and discussions. Lastly, daily responsibilities will also involve small group work, where students will work with their peers to complete their final group project.



Cassaniti, Julia. (2019). Keeping it together: Idioms of resilience and distress in Thai Buddhist mindfulness. Transcultural Psychiatry 56(4): 697-719.

Chibanda, D., et al. (2017). Lay Health Workers’ Experience of Delivering a Problem Solving Therapy Intervention for Common Mental Disorders Among People Living with HIV: A Qualitative Study from Zimbabwe. Community Mental Health Journal 53: 143-153.

Cohen, A., Patel, V., & Minas, H. (2014). “A Brief History of Global Mental Health.” In Patel, Vikram, Harry Minas, Alex Cohen, & Martin J. Prince (Eds). 2014. Global Mental Health: Principles and Practice. Oxford: Oxford UniversityPress.

Galvan, T., Rusch, D., Domenech Rodríguez, M. M., & Garcini, L. M. (2022). Familias Divididas [divided families]: Transnational family separation and undocumented Latinx immigrant health. Journal of Family Psychology, 36(4), 513–522.

Kienzler, H. (2019). “Making Patients” in Postwar and Resource-scare Settings. Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness in Postwar Kosovo. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 34(1)

Shim, Ruth S. & Sarah Y. Vinson. March 29, 2021. To Achieve Mental Health Equity, Dismantle Social Injustice. Scientific American achieve-mental-health-equity-dismantle-social-injustice/#

Singer, Daliah. 17 August 2021. Burning out: The silent crisis spreading among wildland firefighters. The Guardian crisis-spreading-wildfire-fighters

Sousa, A.J.. (2016). “Diagnostic Neutrality in Psychiatric Treatment in North India.” In Luhrmann, Tanya and Jocelyn Marrow, eds. Our Most Troubling Madness: Case Studies in Schizophrenia Across Cultures. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Weine, S.M., Arënliu, A., Görmez, V., Lagenecker, S., & Demirtas, H. (2021). Conducting research on building psychosocial support for Syrian refugee families in a humanitarian emergency. Conflict and Health 15(31).


  • Attendance and discussion participation 20%
  • In-class reflections 20%
  • Weekly short prompt responses 20% (10% each)
  • Group presentation 40%

Attendance and discussion participation

Due to the structure of the course, and the topics we will discuss, I expect everyone in the course to attend and engage in discussion.

In-class reflections

Towards the end of each class session, we will dedicate approximately 10 minutes to reflect on our course materials and discussions. These reflections can take various forms: visceral reactions, questions, critiques, or even quotes or passages that you find meaningful (and please say why you find them meaningful). These are evaluated on completion and need not be polished. You are welcome to handwrite them or type them up. These are written for you, but I will ask everyone to share bits and pieces that they’re comfortable with sharing at the end of the class session or the startof the following class session. You will also use these to develop your responses to the prompts described in the next section.

Weekly short prompt responses

At the start of each week, I will distribute a list of approximately five prompts based on our course topics. I will ask you to respond to one of these questions in a brief (250 words) essay. These will be due by the end of the week. Torespond to these prompts, you will go back to your in-class reflections and our course texts. These are evaluated oncompletion.

Final Presentation

On the last few days of class, you will present on a mental health topic of your choosing. You may select a topic that wehave already discussed, such as climate change and mental health, or choose one that we have not explored. Thesepresentations should be approximately 10 minutes in length, with a few minutes for questions and discussion.

Administrative Information Heading link

  • Elective Number

    ELEC 541

  • Program Contacts

    Program Director: David Ansari, MSc, PhD
  • Program Information

    Duration:   2weeks

    Total average hours/week: 30-35