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New Publication - Mental Health: Pasts, Current Trends and Futures

Posted on 6 October 2017

'Mental Health: Pasts, Current Trends and Futures', available now, is the latest in a series of CGHH engagement publications.

This item originally appeared as a guest post by Dr Philip Kerrigan on the CGHH Blog.

The Centre for Global Health Histories has co-produced a new book with the University of York’s Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (now the Centre for Future Health)entitled Mental Health: Pasts, Current Trends and Futures(published by Orient BlackSwan). The book is available free to download from the University of York’s Digital Library.

Securing better mental health for everyone around the world is one of the greatest current challenges in global public health. Historically and to this day mental disability and illness has been closely linked to social and political stigmatisation, which has led this specialism to remain under-provisioned and under-represented in health structures.

Mental Health Front Cover

Advancing the mental health of the world’s population is hence a challenge that requires multi-faceted solutions, cooperation between many stakeholders, and a fulsome understanding of the political, social, economic and cultural determinants of health. Mental illness is also in many cases not a condition existing on its own but rather one which connects to a wider range of afflictions (for example, post-epidemic disease community support, as has been seen in relation to Ebola in western Africa).

This new work offers a number of carefully researched but accessible case studies from different areas of the world and across periods in time which shed light on some of the many motivations and innovations in the field of mental health, and analyse the range of barriers and opportunities that continue to impact on this complex area of work. Each one is complemented by specially chosen photographs, prints and other visual records, drawn from a variety of libraries and repositories, including Wellcome Images and the WHO Picture Library, and which help to enrich and expand the arguments and themes presented in the text.

As well as highlighting historical failures and enduring problems, the chapters give hopeful evidence of successful initiatives that could be adopted and built on across the globe and of a burgeoning commitment by individuals and national and international organisations to bring forward changes for the better.

The book is trilingual with English, Portuguese and Hindi translations side by side so as to reach the widest possible audience within international agencies, national and local governments, and civil society groupings.

The origins of the work, which is the latest volume in a series examining a range of issues in global public health and health policy, lie in the University of York's commitment to health equity and promotion internationally, which it seeks to advance through independent and evidence-based research. The opportunities to prepare this book in close partnership with colleagues at the World Health Organization were made available through the Centre for Global Health Histories’ designation as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories through which it works closely with UN agencies and national governments on policy advocacy and public engagement. The editors have worked closely also with the Brazilian Federal Government (via Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro), and the World Bank. The research and editing work was funded by the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the UK, via Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders, and the Centre for Global Health Histories at the University of York, UK.

A poster exhibition has been created from twenty of the most striking images from the book.  The exhibition will go on display in the University of York’s Ron Cooke Hub as part of a day of events to mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2017. The book will also be officially launched at a public lecture in the evening and free copies will be available to the public to take away.




1) Andrew Scull – Asylums and care in the community: The dilemmas of mental health policy

2) Samantha Peel – A short visual history of the use of electricity in mental health

3) Jerome Wright – Building capacity and increasing access to community mental health care

4) Carlos Estellita-Lins – Mental health, indigenous suicide and shaminism in Brazil

5) Stephanie Charles & Poppy Nash – The role of schools in promoting the mental wellbeing of young people in the UK

6) Soumitra Pathare, Jasmine Kalha, Titus Joseph, Michelle Funk, Natalie Drew-Bold and Akwatu Khenti – QualityRights Gujarat

7) Patricio V. Marquez and Timothy G. Evans – Global burden of mental disorders: Is there a way forward?

8) Shekhar Saxena, Global mental health and the World Health Organization