Yifan Lu, MSc Medical Anthropology On October 15th 2019, a seminar on mental health and International Development took place at the UCL Department of Anthropology. Five contributors to the newly published book, The Routledge Handbook of International Development, Mental Health and Wellbeing, gave talks on mental health, drawn from their research. This volume intends to…
An objective of my research sought to understand whether a concept of ‘mental health’ exists amongst the TCiE (in contrast to the Western definition of mental health that has been developed by UN/WHO). Interestingly, the UN definition appeared incomplete to respondents as it fails to address ethics.
As a researcher, I was formatting and analysing the interviews of the women who had participated in our project on ‘Investigating Trauma Therapeutic Interventions for Gender Based Violence in Afghanistan Using Traditional Story-Telling”. At the same time, the stories and the silencing betrayed the legacy of a culture rich in story-telling of creation and shared-ness.
I found that religion played a crucial role in the way sadness was understood and resolved: symptoms that otherwise might have been described as evidence of a depressive episode were often understood in those more religiously committed within the framework of the Dark Night of the Soul narrative, an active transformation of emotional distress into a process of self-reflection, attribution of religious meaning and spiritual growth.