Making space for embedded knowledge in Global Mental Health: A role for social work?

David Orr, Sumeet Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The ‘Global Mental Health’ (GMH) movement, an influential driver of transnational knowledge transfer in the field of mental health, advocates evidence-based strategies to ‘scale up’ services in low- and middle-income countries. As with debates on global and local frameworks for social work, there are concerns about marginalisation of knowledge that does not neatly fit the GMH discourse. This article analyses the professional and disciplinary structures that shape knowledge transfer in GMH and the implications for social work's engagement with the movement. Analysis of key documents and secondary literature identifies three key issues for GMH: its potentially negative impact on ‘local’ knowledge production; the challenges of accounting for culture and context; and the selective forms of evidence that are ‘allowed’ to contribute to GMH. Finding ways to encompass more ‘situated’ perspectives could reshape GMH in accord with its aspirations for participation by a wider range of stakeholders. Social work's values-based commitment to rights and empowerment, emphasis on embedded knowledge emerging from close links with practice, and theoretical engagement with social, cultural and political context, enable the profession to contribute significantly to this task. Such engagement would bring improvements in care for those suffering from mental health disorders, their families and communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-582
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Early online date18 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Global Mental Health
  • knowledge transfer
  • international social work
  • indigenisation
  • global social work


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