Laurence Kirmayer: Psychiatry for a Small Planet – Introduction to ASI 2016

The view of earth from space provided by the Apollo mission in 1968 offered a new way of thinking about the planet as our shared home—a beautiful blue-green orb floating in space. In recent years, climate change, urbanization, mass migration, and the violence of global geopolitics have created new challenges and a more acute sense of the vulnerability of our planet. This planetary view exists in some tension with the perspective of globalization, which tends to focus on economic growth and development. This international conference and workshop will examine the implications for global mental health of the “anthropocene” in which our context of adaptation is dominated by human effects on the environment. Questions to be discussed include: What ways of thinking about current global or planetary issues can promote empathy, equity and effective action? Does the notion of “planetarization” offer an alternative to globalization for thinking about geopolitical and ecological crises? What are the links between care of the planet and care of the self? What cultural values and practices can contribute to adaptation, flourishing and well-being in the face of the massive environmental and social changes that are on the horizon? Sessions will explore topics related to four themes: (1) rethinking the ethics, politics, and governance of global mental health “from the bottom up” to ensure the voice of diverse communities and stakeholders in addressing global health inequities; (2) the impacts of migration and urbanization on mental health; (3) the effects of climate change on the mental health of populations and communities; and (4) ecosocial approaches to mental health promotion of populations and communities. These interconnected processes are changing the configuration of social worlds, presenting new challenges to mental health and affording new possibilities for intervention. Presenters will examine the ways that ecosocial and ecosystemic approaches to health and illness can inform policies and practices that contribute to the treatment and prevention of mental disorders and the promotion of mental health and well-being.
Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, FRCPC, FCAHS, FRSC is James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Co-director of the McGill Global Mental Health Program. He is Editor-in-Chief of Transcultural Psychiatry, and Director of the Culture & Mental Health Research Unit at the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, where he conducts research on culturally responsive mental health services, the mental health of Indigenous peoples, and the anthropology of psychiatry. He founded and directs the annual Summer Program and Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry at McGill. His current research includes studies on: culturally based, family centered mental health promotion for Indigenous youth; the use of cultural formulation in cultural consultation; and the place of culture in global mental health. He co-edited the volumes, Understanding Trauma: Integrating Biological, Clinical, and Cultural Perspectives (Cambridge University Press), Healing Traditions: The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (University of British Columbia Press), Cultural Consultation: Encountering the Other in Mental Health Care (Springer), DSM-5 Handbook for the Cultural Formulation Interview (APPI), and Re-Visioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience and Global Mental Health (Cambridge). He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Social Sciences).

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