Duncan Pedersen: Dream-A-World Cultural Therapy as an innovative approach in Global Mental Health (ASI 2015)

Dream-A-World Cultural Therapy as an innovative approach in Global Mental Health.

Duncan Pedersen, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University

Much work is being conducted in countries around the world to systematically influence the knowledge and practice around mental health and service provision. Current propositions in GMH seek to scale-up western biomedical psychiatric models, in order to improve access to services and treatment, thus reducing the ‘mental health gap’ and best meeting the needs of users. Others, like Dream-A-World (DAW) Cultural Therapy, focus their work outside-the-box, that is outside the realms of the health sector and depart from a different paradigm which has been called “user/survivor-ledapproach.” DAW chooses their subjects among the most troubled young children, school drop-outs, living in inner-city garrison settlements of Kingston, Jamaica, and uses creative arts to promote social well-being, resilience and improved academic performance; increasing self-control; reducing antisocial behaviour and promoting ‘wholesome’ identity. My contention here is that creativity is the ‘key’ ingredient of DAW Cultural Therapy. Creativity is as important in education as literacy and numeracy, and we should treat it with the same status. However, schools are replicating the same hierarchical model all over the world. Our education system has been designed to kill creativity or to make it a subordinate of mathematics, physics or natural sciences, thus mining our minds in the way that for the future globalized world won’t serve us much. DAW has contributed not only to foster the mind and mental health of vulnerable young children in Jamaica, but above all has made us rethink the
fundamental principles on which we are educating our children, as well as how should we conduct global mental health interventions inspired by equity and social justice, that are both effective and ethically sound.

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