Do people everywhere experience similar mental health problems and respond to the same treatments? Or are our minds tightly bound to the culture in which we live?
From time to time we all find ourselves in some kind of emotional turmoil. But when do everyday anxieties or unusual thoughts tip over into a mental health problem? And who decides what’s normal, and whether a treatment that works in one country will work elsewhere?
Last October in a village outside of Bangalore, Keshava was dramatically rescued from ten years of being bricked into a room, in his own home. As police knocked down the walls, the young man in his thirties emerged, dishevelled and naked. He’d been locked in a tiny room, without doors or daylight, and was fed through a window. Keshava had become increasingly unwell in his twenties. Unable to cope with his increasingly violent outbursts, or get him the help he needed, his family gradually walled him in.
Stories of mental illness like this are happening all around the world, and in this opening programme Claudia Hammond explores how mental illnesses are treated in different parts of the world. Do we all experience similar conditions and respond to the same treatments? Or are our beliefs about our minds so tightly bound to the culture in which we live, that local solutions provide the best chance of recovery? Claudia visits Cultural Psychiatrist, Dr Micol Ascoli, at Newham’s Centre for Mental Health, who believes that service users’ own cultural interpretations of mental illness are crucial to their recovery.
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