In 2023 we will be launching a new online seminar series: ‘Researching Lived Experience in Mental Health: Interdisciplinary Dialogues’. Watch this space for announcements
Psychotechne: Assessment, Testing, Categorization
Birkbeck Peltz Gallery, Monday 20 February – Friday 24 March 2023
Launch event: Thursday 23 February
A two-person exhibition of works by Sasha Bergstrom-Katz and Tomas Percival. Each artist’s project examines how assessment, testing, and categorisation of individuals are central to decision-making within various institutions, including schools, hospitals, and prisons. Curated by Sarah Marks on behalf of Birkbeck Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Mental Health. Further details to follow…
Innovation & Inclusion in Digital Mental Health
17th November 2022, supported by UKRI and LSHTM
Online symposium co-hosted by the Centre for Global Mental Health at LSHTM and Birkbeck Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Mental Health
The use of digital technologies in mental health treatment is a rapidly growing and complex field, with stakeholders across healthcare, industry, and academia in both high-income and low-resource settings. While public and service-user engagement has been encouraged, this has been largely focused on brief consultations and user-testing, and questions remain around the extent to which service-users have been involved in a meaningful way, at all phases of development. This interdisciplinary symposium brings together clinicians, developers, people with lived experience and researchers in the humanities and social sciences to reflect on how the field has been shaped up to the present, and how social inclusion can be placed at the centre of digital innovations in mental health from here on.
This event will take place online from 2.30-5.15pm on 17th November, see full programme here.
Recovery, Rehabilitation and Remission in Mental Health: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
One-day conference 3rd November 2022, supported by the UKRI & Society for Social History of Medicine
How do we measure, understand, support and regulate recovery in mental health? This conference brings together historians, anthropologists, lived experience researchers and clinicians to consider how these concepts have changed over time in a range of settings. We ask how they’ve been shaped by a range of actors including patients, befrienders, peers, psy-professionals, social workers, clergy, pharmacologists, and prison and probation staff.
This event will take place in person in the Keynes Library at Birkbeck on 3rd November. Tickets are free but registration is essential: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/recovery-rehabilitation-and-remission-in-mental-health-tickets-431902079747
Image credit: Wellcome Images/Hedley Finn – Corridor, NHS Mental Health Unit
Film Screening & Q&A – Nkabom: A Little Health, A Little Prayer
12th October, 6pm at the Birkbeck Cinema. Co-hosted by Birkbeck CIRMH and the ESRC Centre for Mental Health and Society at King’s College London
In recent years Ghana has committed to improving access to mental health care and promoting human rights through partnerships between traditional and faith healers and mental health workers. ‘Nkabom: A little medicine, a little prayer’ is an ethnographic documentary filmed in 2019 in rural villages and market towns in the central belt of Ghana. The film follows the activities of mental health nurses who are creating partnerships with healers in the communities where they work with the aim of reducing harmful practices and improving the treatment of people with mental health conditions. The film shows how these partnerships develop, what makes them successful, and the challenges faced in negotiating the removal of restraints as well as accessing resources. The nurses and healers describe how they ka bom, join together, to reach the same goal of helping their patients to get well.
The film screening will be followed by a Q&A with Dr Erminia Colucci and members of the research team from the UK and Ghana.
The film is part of the Together for Mental Health visual research project in Ghana and Indonesia funded by UKRI Economic and Social Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund. DIRECTOR: Erminia Colucci RESEARCH TEAM: Ursula Read (University of Warwick), Lily Kpobi (University of Ghana), Roberta Selormey (University of Ghana), Erminia Colucci (University of Middlesex) EDITORS: Anthony Comber-Badu and Nadia Astari
For more information please visit https://movie-ment.org/together4mentalhealth/
Art and Psychotherapy: A Critical Workshop
This workshop focuses on the relationship between art and art therapy, examining the roles of artist, service-user artist, amateur artist, outsider artist and non-artist. Though the question ‘what is art’ is rote, the utilisation of art as therapeutic endeavour, championed by therapeutic communities and supported by institutions, tugs at the boundaries of meaning of art via its maker and the maker’s ‘location’. Though many so-called outsider artists are not service users or, more specifically, art therapy patients, their positioning as both artists and not-artists gives a pertinent example of the slipperiness of the category of artist – someone on the ‘inside’ of an ‘art world’ and yet in close proximity to ‘insanity’ and outsider-ness. This interdisciplinary workshop brings together scholars from arts-based practice, art history, history of the human sciences, and psychosocial studies to reflect collectively on the following research questions:
What kinds of subjects does the field of art therapy produce?
What is produced in art therapy?
How does the field of art therapy envision its relationship to contemporary art and artistic practice?
In what way is ‘the artist’ (and more specifically, different categorisations of artists) a particular kind of subject for psychology?
How can art therapy produce wellness when the figure of the artist is so commonly modelled as ‘unwell’?
This event is planned to take place in person at Birkbeck, depending on the pandemic situation. More details and registration will be forthcoming once this has been confirmed.
Image credit: Sasha Bergstrom-Katz
Coffee with Clinicians: Dr Claire Hilton, Historian in Residence, Royal College of Psychiatrists
29th April 2022 3.30-5pm (online), co-hosted by Birkbeck CIRMH and Department of History & Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
A retired surgeon told a medical historian that he’d taken up history of medicine. ‘Good for you,’ replied the historian, ‘Now that I am off the academic treadmill, I think I’ll do a bit of brain surgery.’ That probably sums up the relationship between clinicians and historians, but can one person do both properly?To explore this, Claire will reflect on her own experiences during her career as both a practising NHS psychiatrist and a historian. Themes will include:psychiatry, humanities and history and the art (rather than the science) of clinical practice; becoming a doctor, specialising in old age psychiatry, then moving into history and the role of ‘historian in residence’ at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Dr Hilton’s publications include Civilian Lunatic Asylums in the First World War: A Study of Austerity on London’s Fringe (2020), and Improving Psychiatric Care for Older People: Barbara Rob’s Campaign, 1965-1975 (2017)
The talk will begin at 3.30pm, and will be followed by an informal Q&A. While the meeting officially ends at 4.30, we have Zoom available until 5pm should our chat continue for a little longer.The Zoom meeting will be open from 3.00pm onwards so we can gather for a pre-seminar chat and a virtual coffee. Link to follow shortly.
The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy
Hannah Zeavin in Conversation with Stephen Frosh, 10th March 2022 4-5.15pm
Therapy has long understood itself as taking place in a room, with two (or more) people engaged in person-to-person conversation. And yet, starting with Freud’s treatments by mail, psychotherapy has operated through multiple communication technologies and media. These have included advice columns, radio broadcasts, crisis hotlines, video, personal computers, and mobile phones; the therapists (broadly defined) can be professional or untrained, strangers or chatbots. In The Distance Cure, Hannah Zeavin proposes a reconfiguration of the traditional therapeutic dyad of therapist and patient as a triad: therapist, patient, and communication technology.
Hannah Zeavin is a Lecturer in the Departments of English and History at the University of California, Berkeley, and is affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society. She is a Visiting Fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Social Difference and Editorial Associate at The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Stephen Frosh is a clinical psychologist and a Professor of Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London. He has helped to establish the new discipline of psychosocial studies, especially through considering the psychological, social and cultural applications of psychoanalytic theory. He has published widely on issues of gender and identity and their relationship to developments in social life, and more recently, to questions of otherness and racist hate. His latest book, Those Who Come After: Postmemory, Acknowledgement and Forgiveness (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) explores the legacies of violence and suffering, especially in relation to questions of witnessing and forgiveness.
Open Dialogue in an Inner London NHS Mental Health Service: An Anthropological Investigation
Hybrid Seminar with Dr Ruth Kloocke (Consultant Psychiatrist, Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust) and Kiara Wickremasinghe (PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology, SOAS University of London)
29th October 3.30-4.30pm
We represent a collaborative research team of anthropologists and clinicians conducting an Anthropological Study of Peer-Supported Open Dialogue (APOD). ‘Open Dialogue’ is a Finnish innovation that adopts a person-centred and social network approach to delivering psychiatric crisis care. Our ESRC-funded study runs parallel to the ODDESSI randomised controlled trial which will assess the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of implementing Open Dialogue within the NHS. While the ODDESSI trial will tell us whether on average people in crisis receiving Open Dialogue do better than those receiving treatment-as-usual care, it does not reveal a wider range of contextual factors such as why, how or for whom Open Dialogue works or does not; this is what our ethnography hopes to shed light on. Our talk will explore the relationship between Open Dialogue and anthropology and reflect on the methodological, epistemological and ethical issues that arise when we occupy dual roles as practitioners and researchers.
Organised by Birkbeck CIRMH in partnership with the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
Join via zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87085701560
Dangerous Liaisons: Mental Health, Qu’ranic Healing, and the Meeting of Cultures
Seminar with Prof Werdie van Staden (Nelson Mandela Professor of Philosophy & Psychiatry, Pretoria Medical School) and Dr Mohammed Aboulleil Rashed (Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London)
5th July 2021, 6-7.30pm
What happens when diverse worldviews come together in a healing context? In this talk Prof Werdie van Staden (Nelson Mandela Professor of Philosophy and Psychiatry, Pretoria Medical School, South Africa) and Dr Mohammed Rashed (Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London) present the case study of a Qur’anic healer from the Dakhla Oasis of Egypt. They will highlight his dual attempts to preserve traditional healing practices while seeking to modernise them in line with his understanding of scientific and medical procedures. The results are innovative yet, in this case, highly unpredictable and idiosyncratic practices. The talk will reflect on the significance of these observations for campaigns to introduce mental health services in communities such as the Dakhla Oasis. While cooperation with local healers is necessary, care must be taken in understanding the values they are keen to promote, and the cultural influences on their thought and practice. Only then can cooperation between traditional healers and mental health services lead innovation in a positive direction.
Register for this free event here.
Image credit: Dr Mohammed Aboulleil Rashed
Global Mental Health and Decolonization
9th June, 11am-12.30pm
This seminar will examine how the universality of mental health has been constructed and negotiated, within the World Health Organisation and in the Movement for Global Mental Health. The speakers will consider how Global Mental Health stories its own history – frequently overlooking that psychiatric classification has long been global, especially in its quest for international comparison of ‘mental illness’; and how it engages with critiques of its coloniality – often by framing colonialism as racist denial of care located in the past, rather than something that wraps around the present. Click here for further information.
Inaugural Lecture, Professor Leslie Topp: ‘The Spaces We Are Reduced To’
7th June 2021, 6-7pm
Historic spaces of incarceration – the prisons and asylums of the long nineteenth century – have spatial reduction and monotony designed in. Built to control moral infection and manage poor and unruly populations, they removed not only liberty, but spatial self-determination of the most intimate kind, enforcing mass isolation for some and mass togetherness for others. In this lecture Professor Topp will explore what the pandemic has taught her about the phenomenon of spatial reduction in nineteenth-century carceral institutions – its centrality and yet strange invisibility in the scholarship. She will also propose that these institutions have lessons to teach us about our very recent spatial experiences. Click here for further information.
Interdisciplinary Symposium on Sexual Violence, Medicine & Psychiatry
11th-12th May 2021
Birkbeck’s Wellcome Trust-funded SHaME project is hosting online international, interdisciplinary academic symposium to explore the role of medicine, psychiatry and affiliated professions in debates about sexual violence. Confirmed keynotes include Sameena Mulla, Marquette University (Wisconsin, USA), Gethin Rees, Newcastle University (UK), Amie O’Shea, Deakin University (Australia) and Patsie Frawley, Waikato University (NZ).
Researching Lived Experience in the History of Mental Health
Workshop, 27th-28th April 2021
This workshop aims to bring together colleagues who are working with sources in relation to lived experience in mental health, to open up conversations about methodology, theory and positionality; and to consider the consequences for historical work of basing our histories on ideas of experience. We will also discuss how historians engage with the wider and politically contentious field of mental health studies. We adopt a broad understanding of history to include the recent past, and also welcome dialogue with other disciplinary traditions (e.g. anthropology, phenomenology) which have had more long-standing engagement with these questions.
Registration for this event is now closed. For information about future events on this theme please contact Dr Sarah Marks email@example.com
Image credit: ’16th Self Portrait’ by Bryan Charnley (1949-1991)
Symposium: Old Age Care in Times of Crisis, Past and Present
8th-9th April 2021
co-organised by Birkbeck, University of London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Rarely in recent history has a global event such as the current pandemic brought care for older people into sharper focus. Now, as in the past, many struggle physically and/or mentally, due to a range of bio-psycho-social factors. The provision of care for older people has involved a host of actors from international agencies and NGOs, national and local governments, charities, campaigners, medical and care professionals, and, of course, families and community networks. What has happened to these endeavours, and to old age care as a whole, in times of crisis? Does crisis bring change – for better or worse – in the practices, ideas, cultures, laws, and structures surrounding care for older people?
In a two-day, cross-disciplinary symposium, we will consider how social care, medical treatment, and the rights of older people have been affected by major events such as war, pandemic, plague, famine, economic depression and austerity, industrialisation, political extremism, enslavement, colonialism, or environmental damage/collapse.
Reflections on old age care in times of crisis are welcome from any discipline across the humanities and social sciences at the symposium, which will be held over two afternoons BST on 8 and 9 April 2021. For more information, please go to Oldagecareintimesofcrisis.blogspot.com