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24 September 2014
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Psychiatry, psychology and therapy explored on BBC World Service

The way mental illness is diagnosed and treated around the world is culturally specific and largely dependent on the country where you happen to live.

In Travels of the Mind, from 9 June, psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud investigates psychiatry, psychology and therapy in different countries and cultures around the globe.

The first of the four-part series has Dr Raj Persaud at a farm on the edge of Lake Victoria in Kenya where he meets a traditional healer who specialises in cases of acute possession.

Although exorcism is often called for, an essential part of the therapy involves patients working on the farm, a bit like occupational therapy in the west.

In Dr Persaud's hospital, these patients would be diagnosed as having psychosis or even schizophrenia. Here, if people return, the healer refuses to see them telling their relatives that they are mentally unwell and must see a psychiatrist.

It's a symbiosis of western and non-western practice that Dr Frank Njenga of the Kenyan Psychiatric Association approves of.

On 16 June Dr Raj Persaud discovers that the small Belgian village of Geel acts like one big hospital. This really is care in the community. Every household takes in one or two patients.

Geel's pioneering attitude to the mentally ill began at the end of the 13th century, forged by the work of St Dymphna, the patron saint of madness.

Today, Geel has world class psychiatric facilities but is virtually unique as a place where mentally ill inhabitants lead normal, useful lives in the homes of local residents.

The third programme on 23 June goes to India where most psychiatrists work privately.

State run institutions tend to be remnants from the British Raj – monolithic Victorian hospitals with out of date facilities and practices.

There is huge stigma associated with mental illness and patients are unwilling to come forward.

But Dr Raj Persaud discovers things are beginning to change. The Sangnath Centre in Goa takes its message out to the countryside, targeting women and adolescents at risk from drug abuse and mental illness.

London-trained psychiatrist Vikram Patel has recently returned here to take up the challenge.

Russia has more psychiatrists per head of the population than either the UK or the United States but most are badly trained and poorly resourced.

The final programme on 30 June visits a psychiatric institution in Sverdlovsk where Dr Valery Gafurov is trying to change things from the inside.

He helps run an internat, or large social asylum, which houses people suffering from chronic schizophrenia, often for decades.

Because hospital administrators are paid by the number of occupied beds, schizophrenia tends to be diagnosed more often than depression in Russia.

The Sverdlovsk project aims to change this culture by working with British psychiatrists to retrain mental health professionals at primary care and hospital level.

If the project is a success, it could revolutionise Russian mental health practice.

Notes to Editors

Travels of the Mind is a series of four programmes. The presenter is Dr Raj Persaud and the producer is Rami Trabar.

International Broadcast Times (GMT)

West Africa: | Mon 10.06 rpt 22.06 | Tues 01.06
Europe: | Mon 09.06 rpt 14.06, 19.06 | Tues 01.06
E and S Africa: | Mon 10.06 rpt 22.06 | Tues 01.06
Middle East: | Mon 08.06 rpt 13.06, 18.06 | Tues 01.06
South Asia: | Mon 06.06 rpt 10.06, 16.06
East Asia: | Mon 03.06 rpt 08.06, 15.06, 19.06
Americas: | Mon 15.06 rpt 21.06 | Tues 01.06

UK Broadcast Times (BST)

Monday 9 June 10.05, 15.05, 20.05 | Tuesday 10 June 02.05 | Monday 16 June 10.05, 15.05, 20.05 | Tuesday 17 June 02.05 Monday 23 June 10.05, 15.05, 20.05 | Tuesday 24 June 02.05 | Monday 30 June 10.05, 15.05, 20.05 | Tuesday 1 July 02.05

For English programme listings covering all BBC direct and satellite broadcasts, BBC local FM/AM outlets and major partner stations, visit the Radio Schedules website.

Listen online from 9 June (updated weekly Mondays) at - choose Travels of the Mind from the drop down list of programmes.

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels, interactive services from BBCi, as well as 11 BBC radio networks.



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