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Support and Independence in the Community.

Dr Hanna Kienzler leads this project using multi-site ethnography to explore the diverse meaning of (and barriers to) independence, community and support for persons with mental problems across socio-cultural contexts in Ghana, the occupied Palestinian territory, and England.

Key workstream collaborators

Background

Persons with mental disorders have the right to live independently in the community. To achieve this, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) demands support structures that ensure that individuals can choose their place of residence; have access to in-home and community support services; and can use facilities for the general population. However, little is currently known about what “independence”, “community” and “support” mean across socio-cultural contexts and how barriers and resources impact on the ability of individuals to access adequate support and to live in their communities.  

Approach

In the context of the West Bank of the occupied Palestinian territory, Ghana and the UK, our project uses ethnography combined with legal and philosophical analysis to explore the diverse meanings, barriers and resources to aid resolving the tensions between protecting vulnerability and respecting independence and realising the right to be included in the community in culturally meaningful ways. Specifically, the objectives of our project are –

To explore how “independence”, “community” and “support” are conceptualised in different sociocultural contexts, legal documents and normative philosophical debates, and how such conceptualisations affect the lives of persons with mental health problems and their families.

To discover and understand the barriers and resources which impact on the ability of persons with mental health problems and their families to live as active citizens with equal respect in the community.

In conjunction with beneficiaries and civil society, to articulate the content of the rights associated with living in the community and the practical means of their realisation to enable future policy to better realise the conditions through which social integration may be possible.

Informed by ethnographic and legal analyses, develop a normative understanding of the moral/human right of persons with mental health problems to live with and among others in the community. 

Expected Outcomes

Our research will contribute to developing a locally relevant and comparative evidence-base giving insight into what it means for persons with mental health problems to live in the community as well as the kinds of services and support structures that could provide meaningful assistance to improve people’s lives and wellbeing. Moreover, we will develop interdisciplinary and implementation focused outputs including detailed reports on the experiences of persons with mental problems in different cultural settings; policy guidance for national and international users aiming to realise social integration; innovative training materials for health professionals and social workers; academic publications; and storyboards (graphic illustrations or images displayed in sequence) designed for affected persons and their families. Moreover, our research will lead to additional outcomes including (a) the development of innovative research methods and (b) sophisticated application of ethnographic research methods to a significant question in public health and policy, creating a precedent for future research directions.  

Workstream Members


Dr Hanna Kienzler
Dr Hanna Kienzler
Prinicipal Invesitgator

Lecturer in the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at KCL. Hanna has expertise in ethnography and social and cultural aspects of community mental health including development contexts and regions affected by armed conflict. She has conducted long-term anthropological fieldwork in Palestine. Hanna will lead on Work Stream 2 and contribute widely across the research network.

Genevra Richardson
Genevra Richardson
Core Member

Professor of law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, KCL. Genevra has expertise in mental health law and policy. She will conduct research within Work Stream 2 and contribute widely across the research network.

Sridhar Venkatapuram
Sridhar Venkatapuram
Core member

Lecturer in global health and philosophy, Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, KCL. Sridhar has expertise in global health and policy and the capabilities approach. He will conduct research within Work Stream 2.

Ursula Read
Ursula Read
Core Member

Postdoctoral research associate, faculty of life sciences and medicine, KCL. Ursula has expertise in ethnography, culture and mental health and severe mental illness in Ghana, West Africa. She will conduct research within Work Stream 2.

Dr Hanna Kienzler
Dr Hanna Kienzler
Prinicipal Invesitgator

Lecturer in the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at KCL. Hanna has expertise in ethnography and social and cultural aspects of community mental health including development contexts and regions affected by armed conflict. She has conducted long-term anthropological fieldwork in Palestine. Hanna will lead on Work Stream 2 and contribute widely across the research network.

Genevra Richardson
Genevra Richardson
Core Member

Professor of law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, KCL. Genevra has expertise in mental health law and policy. She will conduct research within Work Stream 2 and contribute widely across the research network.

Sridhar Venkatapuram
Sridhar Venkatapuram
Core member

Lecturer in global health and philosophy, Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, KCL. Sridhar has expertise in global health and policy and the capabilities approach. He will conduct research within Work Stream 2.

Rita Giacaman
Rita Giacaman
Core Member

Professor at the Institute for Community and Public Health at Birzeit University, Palestine. Rita has expertise in psycho-social/mental health system building in war-like conditions, social epidemiology and mixed-methods studies on mental health, and disability rights. She will oversee the research conducted by Work Stream 2 in Palestine.

Rita Giacaman
Rita Giacaman
Core member

Professor at the Institute for Community and Public Health at Birzeit University, Palestine. Rita has expertise in psycho-social/mental health system building in war-like conditions, social epidemiology and mixed-methods studies on mental health, and disability rights. She will oversee the research conducted by Work Stream 2 in Palestine.

Ursula Read
Ursula Read
Core Member

Postdoctoral research associate, faculty of life sciences and medicine, KCL. Ursula has expertise in ethnography, culture and mental health and severe mental illness in Ghana, West Africa. She will conduct research within Work Stream 2.