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MDX academic wins two Global Challenges Research Fund grants for innovative arts-based mental health research

22/10/2018
Projects in Ghana, Indonesia and India using film-making and applied theatre methodologies will contribute towards improving mental health care and the protection of human rights

Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Middlesex University Dr Erminia Colucci has won two grants totalling almost £1 million from the Global Challenges Research Fund, awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The grants are for two mental health research projects on which Dr Colucci is respectively principal investigator, and one of the co-investigators.

The first project, “Using collaborative visual research methods to understand experiences of mental illness, coercion and restraint in Ghana and Indonesia,” builds on previous research Dr Colucci has carried out in Indonesia, which resulted in the ethnographic documentary, Breaking the Chains.

The project is a collaboration with Dr Ursula Read at KCL, Dr Joseph Osafo of the University of Ghana and Dr Diana Setiyawati of the University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, plus partner organisations in both countries.

One of the key objectives is to investigate attempts by health workers and faith-based/traditional healers to collaborate to prevent the use of coercion and provide care.

The second project is led by De Montfort University and aims to develop culturally appropriate, acceptable and accessible mental health literacy for Kerala in southern India through engagement with users and stakeholders.

These projects address important issues in the current global mental health scene using innovative and creative methodologies: ethnographic documentary and participatory film-making, and applied theatre and media engagement respectively.

"As part of the Ghana and Indonesia project, we intend to build a Global South to South network to share experiences and best practice to reduce the use of coercion and restraint and improve access to care for people with mental disorders"
Dr Erminia Colucci, Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Of all the seven research initiatives examining mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders in so-called developing countries to win awards, Joy Todd, head of Health and Human Behaviour Research at ESRC, said that "we are really pleased to have funded such a bold and ambitious range of projects that will seek to improve wellbeing and mental health on an international level. The potential for social science and the arts and humanities to impact on people's everyday lives is demonstrated through the breadth of these projects and the important topics that they have chosen to focus on."

Dr Colucci said, "I am very excited about the ESRC's Global Challenges Research Fund support. I see these interdisciplinary projects as a great opportunity to understand local needs in more depth and contribute to improving mental health care and protection of human rights in low- and middle-income countries where limited research and service/programmes are currently available.

"I am passionate about arts-based and visual methods (which I also teach at Middlesex) and through these projects we will also be able to expand our expertise and improve practice around these innovative and powerful methodologies, still seldom used in mental health research”.

"As part of the Ghana and Indonesia project, we intend to build a Global South to South network to share experiences and best practice to reduce the use of coercion and restraint and improve access to care for people with mental disorders. We have a lot to learn from each other to be able to improve the care and ultimately the lives of people suffering because of denial of their basic human rights, and I am thrilled about having this opportunity to do so with brilliant and passionate collaborators and partners."

Follow @ErminiaColucci   www.movie-ment.org

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