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MAPPING Mental Health Workshop and Network

I was the lead organiser of a week long workshop MAPPING (Measuring and Assessing Presentation and Prognosis in Non-Industrialised Group’s) Mental Health at the University of Zurich. The week (15-19 May 2023) brought together evolutionary anthropologists, cross-cultural psychologists and psychiatrists from across the world for a workshop developing methods for investigating mental health in the least market integrated groups around the world. Over twenty attendees representing several field sites around the world attended. The week involved rotating small group activities and wider group discussions, and we expect at minimum a summary paper, potentially a special issue, to be published off the back of the week's work. More importantly, attendees left with a better idea of how to study mental health in populations living most dissimilarly to Western contexts. Thanks to Adrian Jaeggi for helping hosting us, Inez Derkz, Jordan Martin and Camila Scaff for being official co-organisers, and to the University of Zurich Graduate Campus for generously funding the event with a 7,940 CHF grant.


We are using this opportunity to found the MAPPING Mental Health network, hosted at the University of Zurich's Institute of Evolutionary Medicine. The MAPPING Mental Health network shall consist of researchers and clinicians interested in researching mental health in non-industrialised groups. Questions as to the biological, psychological, social and evolutionary causes of the conditions diagnosed as mental disorders are unresolved, despite decades of effort. Insight into humans living in the least industrialised societies provides a critical opportunity to observe whether and how such traits arise outside of novel environmental factors such as monetary systems, electronic technologies, and urban social living. The researchers involved in MAPPING Mental Health aim to collect data from human groups living in the least market-integrated and Westernised societies, before the rapid onset of urbanization removes all evidence of the natural state of human mental health.




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