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Culture and mental health in Nepal: an interdisciplinary scoping review

  • L. E. Chase (a1), R. P. Sapkota (a2), D. Crafa (a3) and L. J. Kirmayer (a2)

Efforts to address global mental health disparities have given new urgency to longstanding debates on the relevance of cultural variations in the experience and expression of distress for the design and delivery of effective services. This scoping review examines available information on culture and mental health in Nepal, a low-income country with a four-decade history of humanitarian mental health intervention. Structured searches were performed using PsycINFO, Web of Science, Medline, and Proquest Dissertation for relevant book chapters, doctoral theses, and journal articles published up to May 2017. A total of 38 publications met inclusion criteria (nine published since 2015). Publications represented a range of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, cultural psychiatry, and psychology and explored culture in relation to mental health in four broad areas: (1) cultural determinants of mental illness; (2) beliefs and values that shape illness experience, including symptom experience and expression and help-seeking; (3) cultural knowledge of mental health and healing practices; and (4) culturally informed mental health research and service design. The review identified divergent approaches to understanding and addressing mental health problems. Results can inform the development of mental health systems and services in Nepal as well as international efforts to integrate attention to culture in global mental health.

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*Address for correspondence: L. E. Chase, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, SOAS University of London, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK (Email:
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