Contextualizing mental health: gendered experiences in a Mumbai slum

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Contextualizing mental health: gendered experiences in a Mumbai slum

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Title: Contextualizing mental health: gendered experiences in a Mumbai slum
Author: Parkar, Shubhangi R.; Fernandes, Johnson; Weiss, Mitchell Gralnick

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Citation: Parkar, Shubhangi R., Johnson Fernandes, and Mitchell G. Weiss. 2003. “Contextualizing Mental Health: Gendered Experiences in a Mumbai Slum.” Anthropology & Medicine 10 (3) (December): 291–308. doi:10.1080/1364847032000133825.
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Abstract: Urban mental health programmes in developing countries remain in their infancy. To serve low-income communities, research needs to consider the impact of common life experience in slums, including poverty, bad living conditions, unemployment, and crowding. Our study in the Malavani slum of Mumbai examines afflictions of the city affecting the emotional well-being and mental health of women and men with respect to gender. This is a topic for which mental health studies have been lacking, and for which psychiatric assumptions based on middle-class clinical experience may be most tenuous. This study employs ethnographic methods to show how environmental and social contexts interact in shaping local experience with reference to common mental health problems. Focusing on the social and environmental context of the mental health of communities, rather than psychiatric disorders affecting individuals, findings are broadly applicable and sorely needed to guide the development of locally appropriate community mental health programmes. Identified afflictions affecting mental health include not only access to health care, but also sanitation, addictions, criminality, domestic violence, and the so-called bar-girl culture. Although effective clinical interventions are required for mental health services to treat psychiatric disorders, they cannot directly affect the conditions of urban slums that impair mental health.
Published Version: doi:10.1080/1364847032000133825
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