China Mills Talks Back to the Movement for Global Mental Health


The Movement for Global Mental Health Newsletter has published a substantive interview with one of the movement’s most prominent critics, China Mills, author of Decolonizing Global Mental Health: The psychiatrization of the majority world.  “While I agree that there are people all over the world who experience differing levels of distress, and live in conditions of persistent poverty and stark inequality,” says Mills, “I am unsure about how helpful it is to understand this distress as ‘mental disorder’. How we understand something shapes what we do about it…”

“If we understand distress, that may well be due to harsh living conditions, as being caused by something inside people’s brains,” continues Mills, “then we are likely to intervene at the level of the individual, and not at a wider systemic level.” Mills points out that the suggestion that people in some poorer African or Asian countries do not have enough access to treatment “assumes that psychiatry is the only ‘treatment’ for distress, overlooking local and traditional healing practices.”

Interview with China Mills in the Movement for Global Mental Health newsletter (May 2014)