Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module ANTH30J7: Global Mental Health: A Critical Anthropological Perspective

Department: Anthropology

ANTH30J7: Global Mental Health: A Critical Anthropological Perspective

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • ANTH2141 Global Health and Disease


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of global mental health, including history, objectives, and contemporary trends
  • To foster an in-depth understanding of scholarly critiques of the global mental health agenda, with a focus on social anthropological contributions
  • To demonstrate how anthropology can influence global health policy and practice, and vice versa


  • An introduction to global mental health as an interdisciplinary field and social movement, including historical emergence, core concerns, and achievements to date
  • An in-depth exploration of scholarly critiques and debates related to the global mental health agenda; indicative topics may include:
  • The social construction of psychiatric diagnostic categories
  • The relationship between culture and mental illness
  • Therapeutic pluralism and the role of nonbiomedical approaches to healing
  • The medicalization of social suffering
  • Psychiatric power and service user/survivor movements
  • Emerging trends in global mental health intervention, including cultural adaptation of treatments, transdiagnostic interventions, and task-shifting to lay providers

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Recognize key historical milestones in the emergence of global mental health as well as characteristics that set it apart from earlier international mental health efforts
  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of scholarly critiques of the global mental health agenda
  • Apply anthropological concepts and literature to critically evaluate global mental health initiatives
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Link anthropological theory to wider societal discussions and debates about mental health
  • Critique real world interventions using anthropological theory and research
Key Skills:
  • Reflect on the socioculturally and historically contingent nature of psychiatric categories
  • Formulate and support a compelling argument in writing
  • Evaluate and provide constructive feedback on peer work

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will provide students with an overview of scholarly debates related to the field of global mental health, including explanation of relevant concepts and arguments and introduction to key bodies of literature. Ethnographic examples will be used to illustrate abstract concepts and theories.
  • Seminars will involve small and large group discussion. They will provide a forum for exploring ideas introduced in lectures and readings further and helping students to develop their own positions on topics being discussed.
  • Interactive components will include a blog post shared with other students as formative assessment and a peer feedback session during the final seminar. These exercises will give students an opportunity to begin to develop and communicate their ideas in preparation for their summative assignment and to receive feedback from both their lecturer and peers.
  • Preparation for seminars will involve readings as well as engagement with a range of audiovisual media (e.g., video clips, podcasts). Preparatory materials aim to both deepen students’ understanding of key concepts and illustrate their relevance to real world problems.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 hour 10
Seminars 5 Fortnightly 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 85
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Blog post introducing a specific global mental health intervention and offering initial critical reflections drawing on anthropological sources.

â–  Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University