Together for Mental Health is an interdisciplinary applied research project supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund, awarded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).The research is entitled “Using collaborative visual research methods to understand experiences of mental illness, coercion and restraint in Ghana and Indonesia” and is a collaboration between Dr Erminia Colucci at Middlesex University London (Principal Investigator), Co-Investigators Dr Ursula Read at King’s College London (lead on the Ghanaian research), Dr Joseph Osafo at the University of Ghana, Dr Diana Setiyawati at the University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia (lead on the Indonesian research) and with partners from local mental health advocacy groups and arts organisations (including Komunitas Peduli Skizofrenia Indonesia-KPSI and Mindfreedom Ghana).Four local researchers (Research fellows: Dr Lily Kpobi and Dr Ade Prastyani; Research Assistants: Roberta Selormey and Wulan Jatmika) and two local film editors (Nadia Astari and Anthony Badu) have been appointed to work on this project.
Both Ghana and Indonesia have passed laws banning the use of physical restraints on people with mental health problems, however coercive practices remain commonplace and mental health workers face resource challenges in carrying out community-based interventions (see Breaking the Chains for a previous related research in Indonesia). In addition, despite increased availability of mental health services, in both contexts ritual and spiritual practices remain highly valued in addressing mental illness. The aim of the project is to use ethnographic film and participatory methods to explore attempts by mental health workers to establish collaborations with faith-based and traditional healers to prevent the use of coercion and provide care for persons affected by mental illness. Although there have been long-standing calls for such collaboration there has been little investigation of how such relationships would work in practice in specific locations with differing healing traditions and mental health systems. The use of participatory visual methods aims to engage stakeholders, including persons with lived experience of mental illness, across differing socio-economic backgrounds, educational achievements and languages. The project will build a south-to-south network to share experiences and examples of best practice to reduce the use of coercion and restraint and improve access to care for people with mental illness.
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The support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC UK) is gratefully acknowledged.