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A multi-disciplinary exploration of mental health recovery in a cultural context


   School of Social Sciences

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  Dr Lucian Milasan , Dr Tim Buescher  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Mental health services worldwide are guided by a recovery-oriented approach. The shift from clinical recovery to a personal experience of recovery dominates the current debates in this area. Within this context, cultural factors are under-researched and contemporary frameworks insufficiently account for culture in understanding recovery processes. This is despite growing literature showing that experiences of mental distress and help-seeking behaviours are determined culturally. Furthermore, culture is linked to stigma and mental health inequalities exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, the importance of this topic in the current health, political, and socio-cultural context.  

The aim of this project is to explore cultural nuances of recovery in mental health in the UK and/or other countries through the use of creative arts and digital technologies. The proposed interdisciplinary research seeks to inform mental health practice to promote culturally appropriate avenues to support the recovery of people with mental health problems from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  

The proposed project subscribes to the paradigm of decolonising mental health by challenging the understanding and practice of mental health services rooted in a paternalistic psychiatric system. Hence, the need to develop effective ways to incorporate cultural idiosyncrasies in mental healthcare and recovery work.  

Cultural diversity is at the core of the project building on the premise that one-size-does-not-fit-all recovery approaches and conceptualisations. Culture is a major part of individuals’ identity, and identity is known to be one of the chief pillars of recovery. Therefore, investigating and strengthening the links between culture and recovery is key to shaping mental health services reflective of individuals’ understanding and belief systems.  

Aligned with innovation and creativity as NTU core values, creative arts and digital technologies (photography, videography, digital storytelling, gamification, and social media) are advanced here as potential cross-disciplinary research methods combined with qualitative approaches. Quantitative or mixed methodologies are also encouraged, depending on the applicant’s expertise and research interests.  

This research is versatile in its focus on the perspective of service users and/or service providers. In terms of impact this project seeks to develop a cultural recovery framework and, subsequently, advance culturally sensitive recovery tools in mental health practice.  

This exciting PhD opportunity is open to UK-based and international candidates with interest in mental health recovery coming from various professional backgrounds: mental health nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, psychotherapists, people with lived experiences of mental health, and more.  

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