Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

Mental Health and Wellbeing is a timely new book that explores these increasingly important subjects from an intercultural perspective. This is essential reading for anyone studying or working in mental health at this time of unprecedented levels of human migration and when mutual understanding of diverse cultural perspectives is of vital importance.

Table of Contents

1. Mental Health and Wellbeing: Intercultural Perspectives

Abstract
A walk through any city or provincial town in, say, contemporary England, France, the USA or Brazil reveals the impact of heterogeneous ideas and services relating to mental health and wellbeing derived from many parts of the globe: Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, yoga, reiki, tai chi, chi-kung, mindfulness, various forms of massage, sauna and spa treatments. Some of these practices are relatively recent, for example, the growth of mindfulness at least outside a Buddhist context, can be traced to the 1980s while yoga and tai-chi have been present for several decades more. Some practices were brought as part of a migratory process, for example, Chinese medicine was originally established to serve the needs of the Chinese and South East Asian diaspora just as Ayurvedic and Unani medicine travelled with migrants from Hindu India and the Islamic world. With rapidly accelerated migration and exchanges of ideas, treatments and understandings of the relationship between body and mind from many parts of the globe have become co-present with conventional forms of medicine and, in some notable cases, have been incorporated into the mainstream.
Charles Watters

Perspectives on Migration and Mobility in Mental Health and Wellbeing

Frontmatter

2. Migration, Mobility and Cultural Diversity: implications for mental health and wellbeing

Abstact
The late 20th and early 21st century has witnessed a remarkable growth in the extent and diversity of international migration. The pattern has changed from significant migration from one country to a particular destination- from example, the large-scale movement of populations in the mid-20th century from former colonies of European powers such as India and Algeria to the UK and France- to more diverse forms of migration not readily explicable in terms of colonial histories. Part of this phenomenon is, of course, the result of a more globalized economy or what Castells terms the `network society’ linking the production of goods and services to an ever-expanding interdependent global economy (Castells, 2000). Investments is certain localities generate spaces of concentrated labour migration, production, distribution, exchange and consumption that can be severely disrupted by fluctuations in the global market (Harvey, 2006). A global company such as Apple, for example, with headquarters in California has had a dramatic impact on patterns of internal migration in China where, as Pun and Chan note, ‘successive generations of rural migrant workers have become the mainstay of the country’s export-processing sector’ (2013, p179). A key issue here is the interdependence of modes of capitalist production and the movement of people. As geopolitical environments change, companies seek safer and more lucrative environments for production and distribution and the development of services, including financial services. The presence of valued resources and the movement of capital can produce new opportunities for migrants and attract people from across the globe to particular destinations.
Charles Watters

3. Mental Health and Wellbeing: Perspectives on Religion and Spirituality

Abstract
It may be helpful at the outset to consider two levels at which the relationship between religion and spirituality on the one hand and wellbeing and mental health on the other may be explored. The terminology introduced by the psychologist Gordon Allport is useful in this context. Allport and his colleague J Michael Ross distinguished between what he termed ‘extrinsic’ and ‘intrinsic’ religiosity. He defined the extrinsically religious as follows: ‘people of this orientation are disposed to use religion for their own ends … Extrinsic values are always instrumental and utilitarian. Persons with this orientation may find religion useful in a variety of ways—-to provide security and solace, sociability and distraction, status and self-justification. The embraced creed is lightly held or else selectively shaped to fit more primary needs. In theological terms the extrinsic type turns to God, but without turning away from self’. By contrast, he defined a category of people as ‘intrinsically’ religious: ‘Persons with this orientation find their master motive in religion. Other needs, strong as they may be, are regarded as of less ultimate significance, and they are, so far as possible, brought into harmony with the religious beliefs and prescriptions. Having embraced a creed the individual endeavours to internalize it and follow it fully. It is in this sense that he lives his religion’
Charles Watters

The changing landscape of services

Frontmatter

4. Rethinking Culture in Mental Health and Wellbeing

Abstract
In this section of the book we shift from an orientation towards exploring concepts and theories to one that is more practice based. In doing so it is helpful to highlight key points from part one. Firstly, the contemporary world is ‘on the move’ in unprecedented ways, both in scale and diversity of migration. However, this movement is not only characterised by the scale and diversity of people moving from one country to another but also by mobility, both in terms of physical movement and ideas. In contemporary Europe, for example, people move between countries for work or leisure without committing to depart one country and live in another. The pace scale and diversity of migration is accompanied by an increasingly rapid flow and exchange of ideas between countries and communities, resulting in an ever more dynamic environment in which people reflect on and develop ways of enhancing mental health and wellbeing. With respect to migration, the overarching paradigms that inform wider societal responses to migration and diversity conditions the way in which services towards migrants and refugees are designed and implemented. We are also faced with the spectre of large scale forced migration and of countries closing doors to external migrants at a time of grave humanitarian crisis. One face of migration is the relaxed cosmopolitanism of people who experience different environments and cultures as part of their lifestyles while another face is the plight of the refugee and undocumented migrant queueing in barren destitute areas, experiencing ‘bare life’ (Agamben, 1998), unwelcome and without citizenship.
Charles Watters

5. The role of Nature in Mental Health and Wellbeing

Abstract
It is helpful initially to consider the NHS’ advice on mental wellbeing. The promotion of mental wellbeing is viewed as consisting of five ‘ways to wellbeing’. It is notable that this core guidance on the development of mental wellbeing is viewed as involving engagement with the wider community through altruism, participation in classes and group events and connecting to neighbours. It is not rooted in a particular cultural domain and describes activities that are potentially meaningful to people from a wide range of ethnic or cultural backgrounds.
Charles Watters

6. Emerging Paradigms in Mental Health and Wellbeing Services

Abstract
In 1995 I recall offering a workshop presentation at a conference of the World Federation for Mental Health in Dublin. My presentation was on mindfulness and Buddhist meditation and was only one on the subject of mindfulness at the conference. There were only a handful of people present and my sense was that the topic was considered rather marginal and esoteric. I was aware of mindfulness from studying Buddhism in the late 70s and early 80s and practicing meditation from 1977. At the time I held a lectureship in mental health at the University of Kent and was interested in exploring the potential interface between mindfulness meditation and mental health. The participants listened politely before going on to consider more pressing matters such as user involvement in services, treatment in the community, changing professional roles and the pace of deinstitutionalisation.
Charles Watters

7. Towards an Integrated, Intercultural Approach in Mental Health and Wellbeing

Abstract
A central argument here is that notions of mental health and wellbeing are increasingly informed by dynamic intercultural contexts. The pace of change in the field is accelerating in an unprecedented age of migration in which people from a wide diversity of cultural and religious traditions are interacting with each other in growing urban and diversifying rural spaces. They are also interacting in new ways through the growth of digital technologies that are offering resources for promoting and sharing understandings and representations of what constitutes living well. These resources often arrive involuntarily through advertising. Watching a news programme may be interspersed with advertisements for drugs, diets or aids to exercise regimes aimed at enhancing wellbeing. Newspapers, whether in print or digital form, routinely carry supplements with titles such as ‘Wellbeing’, ‘Living Well’ or, in the case of the New York Times, ‘Smarter Living’. These supply a heterogeneous range of lifestyle and health guides that are informed by highly diverse and intercultural understandings of mental health and wellbeing. One discernible and significant trend is towards more holistic understandings of mental health that recognise a dynamic interaction between mind, body, social and material environments and, in some traditions ‘soul’ or spirit’. In this sense, how we think about mental health may be seen as informed increasingly by a wellbeing paradigm that is informed by intercultural perspectives.
Charles Watters
Additional information