Research ethics in global mental health: advancing culturally responsive mental health research

Transcult Psychiatry. 2014 Dec;51(6):790-805. doi: 10.1177/1363461514527491. Epub 2014 Mar 25.


Global mental health research is needed to inform effective and efficient services and policy interventions within and between countries. Ethical reflection should accompany all GMHR and human resource capacity endeavors to ensure high standards of respect for participants and communities and to raise public debate leading to changes in policies and regulations. The views and circumstances of ethno-cultural and disadvantaged communities in the Majority and Minority world need to be considered to enhance scientific merit, public awareness, and social justice. The same applies to people with vulnerabilities yet who are simultaneously capable, such as children and youth. The ethical principles of respect for persons or autonomy, beneficence/non-maleficence, justice, and relationality require careful contextualization for research involving human beings. Building on the work of Fisher and colleagues (2002), this article highlights some strategies to stimulate the ethical conduct of global mental health research and to guide decision-making for culturally responsible research, such as developing culturally sensitive informed consent and disclosure policies and procedures; paying special attention to socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental risks and benefits; and ensuring meaningful community and individual participation. Research and capacity-building partnerships, political will, and access to resources are needed to stimulate global mental health research and consolidate ethical practice.

Keywords: children; consent; global mental health; research ethics; youth.

MeSH terms

  • Community-Based Participatory Research*
  • Confidentiality
  • Culturally Competent Care*
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Informed Consent By Minors
  • Mental Health*
  • Risk Assessment