Ethics for Global Mental Health: From Good Intentions to Humanitarian Accountability, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Ethics for Global Mental Health

From Good Intentions to Humanitarian Accountability, 1st Edition

By Elena Cherepanov


196 pages | 17 B/W Illus.

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Ethics for Global Mental Health examines the limitations of current normative approaches to global mental health (GMH) work and argues for a values-based framework that prioritizes accountability and contextual relevance of humanitarian and profession-specific values. It cautions against using aspirational ideals as operational guidance. Chapters are organized around challenges arising in humanitarian research, disaster relief, post-conflict recovery, fieldwork, and refugee resettlement and are designed to equip readers with strategies for resolving professional dilemmas and negotiating conflicting priorities. Also included is a sample training curriculum as well as case studies and exercises that help professionals address countertransference and burnout, and recognize ethically questionable practices such as trauma tourism, rescuer fantasy, or savior complex.


"Ethics for Global Mental Health is an essential read for humanitarian workers. Dr Cherepanov makes an urgent and compelling call for professional and academic rigor in mental health care that we have now come to expect in the provision of physical health care. We would do well to heed that call."

Unni Karunakara, MBBS, MPH, DrPH, Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health, Yale University, International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (2010-2013)

"Cherepanov has written a moving, intelligent, and empathic dissection of the humanitarian system, and of the space of practice called global mental health within that system. She challenges taken-for-granted norms and practices, and unflinchingly demands a realignment of norms and practices that will lead with people, and with ethics. Rather than allowing the global mental health "black box" to remain filled with whatever content donors and humanitarian providers are willing to offer, Cherepanov’s demands truth, impact, and honesty. Her critical gaze is all the more powerful for how persuasively it grounds the reader in micro-detail experiences of the field of practice while simultaneously retaining a critical overview of the field as a whole."

Sharon Abramowitz, PhD, Medical Anthropologist

Table of Contents

Introduction and Overview

1. Global Mental Health in a Changing World

2. Contemporary Humanitarianism

3. Humanitarian Ethics

4. Professional and Personal Challenges in in Humanitarian Work

5. Managing Ethical Challenges in Global Mental Health

6. Aspirational Guidance: Principles of Humanitarian Assistance

7. Operational Guidance: IASC Guidelines

8. Ethical Dilemmas: Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don’t

9. Ethically Questionable Practices

10. Safety Imperative and Self-Care

11. Values-Based Ethical Framework and Core Competencies in Global Mental Health

12. Ethical Considerations for the Refugee Mental Health Providers in USA

13. Conclusion and Future Directions

About the Author

Elena Cherepanov, PhD, is a professor at Cambridge College where she founded one of the first certificate programs in trauma studies in the United States. She is also the behavioral health lead for refugee-integrated care at Lynn Community Health Center in Massachusetts. Dr. Cherepanov received a Carol Hacker Award for her excellence in trauma work and has worked across the globe with multiple humanitarian organizations. She is the author of over 50 papers and books translated into different languages.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Education & Training
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health