The GMH concentration is designed to raise students’ knowledge and awareness of the ways in which mental health inequalities are historically and socially produced, and their understanding of how poverty, racism and social exclusion exert powerful influences on the emotional and social well-being of individuals, families, and communities. The disciplinary challenges in applying Western psychological categories, concepts and interventions globally are addressed, with an emphasis on understanding that local concepts of mental illness, and the related health care-seeking behavior are essential for the development of effective mental health interventions and program development locally and globally.
Concentration courses will expose students to the interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral approaches to global mental health initiatives, research, program development and program evaluation. Through coursework and experiential activities, students will be introduced to cultural idioms of distress, to cultural responses to suffering and healing, and to culturally sensitive conceptualizations of trauma and resilience. Students will learn to identify and differentiate the characteristics and needs of specific vulnerable populations: immigrants, refugees, victims of torture, post-conflict populations, and to provide appropriate social emotional support at the individual, systemic and programmatic level.
Additionally, service learning programs and cultural immersion experiences in international settings such as Haiti, Kenya, Guyana, and Ecuador will enhance students’ sensitivity to diversity and difference; promote learning and sharing of cross-cultural experiences; enhance students’ competence in building relationships with diverse populations; increase students’ awareness of ethics and standards appropriate to professional practice with culturally diverse populations; and expand students’ global perspectives of psychological theories and their application to culturally diverse groups. Opportunities for local immersion experiences that do not require students to travel internationally are also available to fulfill the concentration requirements.