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The University of Edinburgh: Global Mental Health and Society

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of Social and Political Science
Study type Taught


Global Mental Health - interdisciplinary approaches at Edinburgh

  • Do you want to examine how mental health is understood and addressed in varied contexts across the world?

  • Are you interested in the social drivers of poor mental health and ways to address these?

  • Do you want to play a role in transforming mental health care globally?

Mental health and well-being are crucial global health and social welfare policy concerns with significant resources and research devoted to this area.

This interdisciplinary postgraduate programme offers you opportunities to develop:

  • critical perspectives on global mental health policy

  • practice and research space for creating transformative possibilities for approaches to global mental health care

  • tools for conceptual and practice innovation in the global mental health field

Please note this programme is not a professional programme in mental health and does not provide clinical or professional practice training or accreditation.

An interdisciplinary academic discipline

Global mental health is emerging as an interdisciplinary discipline with academic training programmes, journals, textbooks and research consortiums working to explore and address a range of global mental health priorities in diverse global settings.

Much of this activity has been situated in psychiatry and public health disciplines - with a growing body of scholarly work from other professional and social science disciplines including medical anthropology, social work, international development, and clinical psychology.

The role of the social sciences in global mental health is crucial to:

  • further critical understandings of how conceptions of ‘distress’ and ‘mental health’ are socially, culturally and politically constructed in different contexts

  • theorising the intersections between social and economic development and mental health

  • developing effective interdisciplinary approaches to addressing the mental health-development interface

Debates in mental health care

There is increasing global and local policy emphasis on ‘standardised’ and ‘evidence-based’ approaches to mental health care, which in doing so, potentially neglect three important dimensions, namely:

  • the diversity of understandings of what constitutes ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’

  • the complex social, cultural and political dynamics that shape psychological distress

  • the transformative value of inter- and transdisciplinary ways of thinking about and engaging with mental health

This programme will engage you in these current debates and dilemmas.

It will focus on the culturally, politically and socially situated conceptualisations of mental health, addressing the implications of these multiple understandings for effective policy and practice in other global settings.

Who this programme is for

The programme is aimed at both professionals and graduates with backgrounds in:

  • social work

  • international development

  • public health

  • psychology

  • nursing

  • medicine

  • health studies

  • social and medical anthropology

  • sociology

  • other social science disciplines

We welcome applications from people with lived experience and from disciplines not listed above. In your application to the programme, please do focus on how your particular personal and academic background fits with the study of global mental health as a discipline.


Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 22nd in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Our position as one of Britain’s leading research universities was reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, ranked 4th in the UK for research power (Times Higher Education, Overall Ranking of Institutions), with 90% of our research activity classified as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

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