The roads less traveled: mapping some pathways on the global mental health research roadmap

Transcult Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;49(3-4):396-417. doi: 10.1177/1363461512447137. Epub 2012 Jun 21.


The global mental health (GMH) research agenda should include both culture-general and culture-specific perspectives to ensure ecological validity of findings. Despite its title, the current GMH research agenda appears to be using a monocultural model that is individualistic, illness-oriented, and focused on intrapsychic processes. Ironically, issues of culture are prominently absent in many discussions of global mental health. This paper highlights some issues and concerns considered key to conducting ecologically valid and socially responsible GMH research. The concerns are particularly directed at researchers from dominant cultures who are working in low-income countries. Central to these issues is the balance between etic and emic perspectives in assessment, diagnosis, and intervention, as well as language, engagement of stakeholders and their agendas, and evaluation of the benefit of interventions to the community. New terminology is proposed that identifies broad cultural groups, and recommendations provided for a research agenda to encourage both basic and applied research that mutually benefits all stakeholders in the GMH research endeavor.

MeSH terms

  • Culture
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Research Design*
  • Research*
  • Terminology as Topic