This talk will provide an introduction to challenges and "big debates" in the field of global mental health, such as whether mental disorders are universal. Dr. Kaiser offers several examples of the way that an anthropological perspective can address these challenges and contribute to improved screening, clinical communication, and intervention design for global mental health. Using the example of Haiti, Dr. Kaiser shows how attention to cultural models and language can improve mental health care, and she explores the role of Vodou in treatment-seeking behavior.
Bonnie Kaiser conducts global mental health research with a focus on cultural aspects of measurement, communication, and intervention design. Dr. Kaiser holds a PhD in Anthropology and MPH in Epidemiology, and her work aims to bridge the methods and epistemologies of these fields in the study of mental health. She has conducted research on mental health in Haiti for 7 years, as well as working in Nepal, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Her research demonstrates how a nuanced understanding of perceptions and experiences of mental illness can improve clinical communication and intervention design. Her publications have explored idioms of distress and mental health communication, development and testing of transcultural measurement tools, and treatment decision-making. Her postdoctoral research explores how attention to culture can improve the development, adaptation, and evaluation of mental health interventions.