Anthropology of Mental Health

Anthropology of Mental Health



Anthropology of Mental Health

Literature Review

Mental health is an increasingly prevalent problem experienced all over the world. Therefore, this literature review aims to analyse several anthropology journals in an attempt to determine the various perspectives of mental health in various communities. This literature review strives to determine the beliefs and opinions about mental illnesses, their causes, and several treatments in different cultures. Additionally, this literature review plays a significant role in addressing the intrinsic hurdles encountered in offering effective care to mental health patients all over the world. The main problem being the stigma. The review also points out that conceptualizations of mental illness and remedies are intrinsically varied and intricate in all nations and multi-ethnic communities since mental health is experienced differently around the world.

The Singaporean Public Beliefs About the Causes of Mental Illness: Results from A Multi-Ethnic Population-Based Study

 This journal discerns the popular opinions about social and demographic factors influencing beliefs and origins of mental health problems, and wish for separation from the mentally ill in a multi-cultural Southeast Asian community by analysing five mental illnesses including depression, OCD, dementia, excessive alcohol consumption, and schizophrenia. The study is done by questioning 3006 people about social and demographic factors affecting mental illness, beliefs on causes of mental health problems, and their wish for separation from the mentally ill. The article determines that the Singaporean believe that mental illness is due to physical, psychosocial, and personality causes. Moreover, social and demographic factors found to be affecting beliefs in mental health included ethnicity, gender and age differences. The study proposes further research to examine potential causes of mental illness in Asia such as supernatural causes and biogenetic factors. The study takes the first step in spreading awareness about mental health by analysing popular beliefs about mental illness and consequently promoting treatment compliance.

Mental Health Stigma in The Muslim Community

This paper reiterates that stigma is the main obstacle encountered by individuals with mental illness. The article concentrates on the intricate interactions between cultures, genders, classes, and health status in order to shed light on the stigmatization of mental health within the Muslim communities. Despite the positive attitudes held by Muslim towards mental healing, social stigma is still strong since many families still consider having mentally ill relatives as shameful. According to the article, mental illness could be perceived as a chance to reconnect to Allah or a reminder to rebuild faith by constant prayers. Therefore, many Muslims would rather consult a religious leader about mental health instead of mental health institutions. The paper proposes further research to comprehend the necessary changes that need to be made concerning the perspectives of mental health in Muslim society. The article also highlights the role and responsibilities of religious leaders in spreading awareness of mental health issues.

How Is Depression Experienced Around the World? A Systematic Review of Qualitative Literature

Currently, international investigation on depression is done by assessment tools that rely on investigations and medical experiences in western cultures especially North America, Europe, and Australia. The article strives to discover some of the symptoms of depression in non-occidental communities that are neglected in the contemporary diagnostic tools in addition to diagnostic criteria for depression that are irrelevant in other populations. The study combed through nine online databases that utilized qualitative approaches focusing on the differences in results due to regions, sex, and context so as to ascertain the constancy of definitions of depression in several communities all over the world. The study discovered that there is a major problem with the cross-cultural utilization of DSM-5 description of depression since most of the symptoms were rarely reported internationally. However, the study was greatly limited by the single-minded focus on depression instead of generally focusing on mental health. Therefore, the paper proposes further research on a different model other than the one used in DSM-5 that can comprehensively describe mental illnesses.  This research points out the inadequacy of the model used in DSM in describing the international experience of depression.

Cultural Diversity and Mental Health: Considerations for Policy and Practice

This article describes some of the fundamental deliberations on cultural diversity and its consequences for mental health systems and services. The article determines that there are five fundamental elements of a diverse culture that significantly affect mental health systems in various communities including emotional handling, embarrassment, power distance, social interactions, and religious conviction. Furthermore, the article outlines some of the factors that affect treatment seeking in different cultures such as stigma. The article also establishes that the diversity in cultures has a variety of impacts on mental health practice including the attitudes and opinions on mental health; whether people in society seek treatment; type of the therapeutic relationship; and matters of racism and discrimination. The study shows the importance of incorporating cultural healing practices and methods in the provision of mental health services.

A Qualitative Exploration of The Perspectives of Mental Health Professionals on Stigma and Discrimination of Mental Illness in Malaysia.

This article establishes stigma as one of the most significant obstacles in effective care and treatment of mental health problems. The article investigates prejudice experienced by individuals with mental health problems from Malaysian mental health experts. The study was carried out by comprehensive, confrontational, semi-structured discussions with 15 mental health specialists. The article determines that family, friends, and colleagues are the chief perpetrators of stigma in Malaysia. Additionally, the article discovers that individuals with Schizophrenia and depression are the most stigmatized through labeling, rejection and social exclusion. The article proposes further research on the alleviation of stigmatization around mental health. According to mental health specialists, discrimination against patients is the main impact of stigma. The article shows the urgency required in addressing stigma in mental health by creating awareness about mental illnesses in the world, especially in Malaysia.


Mental health is one of the most controversial issues in contemporary society. This literature review strives to determine the beliefs, descriptions, and opinions about mental illnesses, their causes, and several treatments in different cultures. Moreover, this literature review addresses the intrinsic hurdles encountered in offering effective care to mental health patients all over the world such as stigma. The review also determines that conceptualizations of mental illness and remedies are fundamentally varied and complicated in all over the world since mental health is experienced differently around the world.


Ciftci, A., Jones, N., & Corrigan, P. (2013). Mental Health Stigma in the Muslim Community. Journal Of Muslim Mental Health, 7(1). doi: 10.3998/jmmh.10381607.0007.102

Gopalkrishnan, N., & Babacan, H. (2015). Cultural diversity and mental health. Australasian Psychiatry, 23(6_suppl), 6-8.

Hanafiah, A., & Van Bortel, T. (2015). A qualitative exploration of the perspectives of mental health professionals on stigma and discrimination of mental illness in Malaysia. International Journal Of Mental Health Systems, 9(1). doi: 10.1186/s13033-015-0002-1

Haroz, E. E., Ritchey, M., Bass, J. K., Kohrt, B. A., Augustinavicius, J., Michalopoulos, L., … & Bolton, P. (2017). How is depression experienced around the world? A systematic review of qualitative literature. Social Science & Medicine, 183, 151-162.

Pang, S., Subramaniam, M., Lee, S., Lau, Y., Abdin, E., & Chua, B. et al. (2017). The Singaporean public beliefs about the causes of mental illness: results from a multi-ethnic population-based study. Epidemiology And Psychiatric Sciences, 27(4), 403-412. doi: 10.1017/s2045796017000105