The Routledge Handbook of International Development, Mental Health and Wellbeing: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Handbook of International Development, Mental Health and Wellbeing

1st Edition

Edited by Laura Davidson


464 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367027735
pub: 2019-07-02
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Despite its enormous impact on individuals, families, communities, and economies, globally mental health has always been a low priority, with mental health budgets rarely protected and often the first to be axed in times of austerity. Yet more than 650 million people worldwide are estimated to meet diagnostic criteria for common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, with almost three quarters of that burden in low and middle income countries. Nowhere in the world does mental health enjoy parity with physical health. Notwithstanding astonishing medical advancements in treatments for physical illnesses, mental illness continues to have a startlingly high mortality rate. However, despite its widespread neglect, there is now an emerging international imperative to improve global mental health and wellbeing. The UN’s current international development agenda was finalised at the end of 2015, and whilst the seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) are much broader in focus than the previous eight millennium development goals (MDGs), the need for worldwide improvement in mental health has finally been recognised. SDG3 seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages. This Handbook addresses the new UN agenda in the context of mental health and sustainable development, examining the breadth of its implications for national and international policy-makers, decision-makers, researchers and funding agencies. Conceptual, evidence-based and practical arguments and discussions crossing a range of disciplines are presented here from the world’s leading researchers and practitioners in the field of mental health. Together, they explore why a commitment to investing in mental health for the fulfilment of SDG3 ought to be an absolute global priority.

Table of Contents


Foreword, Jeffrey Sachs, The New UN Health Agenda

I: The Imperative


Chapter 1, Shekhar Saxena and Laura Davidson, The Global Mental Health Imperative and the Role of the World Health Organization within the UN 2030 Agenda

Chapter 2, Larry Gostin and Laura Davidson, The Rights to Mental Health and Development

II: Economic Perspectives 

Chapter 3, Martin Knapp and Valentina Iemmi, Meeting SDG3: The Role of Economics in Mental Health Policy

Chapter 4, Judith Bass, The Relationship between Mental Health and Poverty in LMICs

Chapter 5, Chris Underhill, Victoria Ngo and Tam Nguyen, Meeting SDG1 and SDG3: Addressing the Link Between Mental Health and Economic Development in Vietnam

Chapter 6, Sean Kidd and Kwame McKenzie, Social entrepreneurship and systems thinking about mental illness in LMICs

III: Demographic and Cultural Perspectives

Chapter 7, Joseph D. Calabrese, Understanding Traditional and Other Culture-Based Approaches to Mental Illness in Lower and Middle Income Contexts

Chapter 8, Carol Vlassoff, Addressing Mental Health from a Gender Perspective: Challenges and Opportunities in Meeting SDG3

Chapter 9, Svend Aagesen, Men’s Mental Health and Wellbeing: The Global challenge

Chapter 10, Guglielmo Schinina and Karoline Popp, The Mental Health and Well-being of Migrants in the Context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

Chapter 11, Cornelius Ani and Olayinka Omigbodun, The Sustainable Development Goals and Child and Adolescent Mental Health in Low and Middle Income Countries

Chapter 12, Stephen J. Bartels, The Global Challenge of Mental Health and Ageing, and Scalable Innovations in Mental Health Services for Older Adults


IV: Policy

Chapter 13, Rachel Jenkins, Strengthening Government Policy to Achieve Target 3.4 of SDG3

Chapter 14, Aart Hendriks, Mental health, disability rights and equal access to employment: Global challenges in light of the SDGs

Chapter 15, Dainius Pūras and Julie Hannah, Prioritising Rights-Based Mental Health Care in the 2030 Agenda

Chapter 16, Giuseppe Raviola, Natural and Humanitarian Disasters, and Mental Health: Lessons from Haiti

Chapter 17, Peter Lehmann, Paradigm Shift: Treatment Alternatives to Psychiatric Drugs, with Particular Reference to LMICs


V: Legal Perspectives

Chapter 18, Peter Bartlett, Mental Disability, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, and the Sustainable Development Goals

Chapter 19, David Bilchitz, The Sustainable Development Goals, Psychosocial Disability, and the Meaning of Wellbeing in SDG3: Towards an Approach that Combines the Subjective and Objective

Chapter 20, Laura Davidson, International Monitoring and Enforcement Mechanisms for Violations of Human Rights in the Global Mental Health Context

Chapter 21, Laura Davidson, The Law as Sword and Shield: Realising the Rights of those with Psychosocial Disability Through International, National and Regional Complaints Systems

VI: Country Perspectives 

Chapter 22, Salam A. Gómez, A Case Study: Colombia, Conflict, and the Peace Process from a User-Perspective

Chapter 23, Amita Danda, Legislating on Mental Health in India to Achieve SDG3

Chapter 24, Sharon Primor and Dahlia Virtzberg-Rofe, Breaking the Restraints: Civil Society’s Struggle to Abolish Human Rights Violations in Israel’s Psychiatric System


Afterword, Vikram Patel, Joining Up for Our Future in Global Mental Health







About the Editor

Laura Davidson is a London Barrister and a noted authority on human rights, mental health, disability and capacity matters. She has an LL.M in international law and a Ph.D from the University of Cambridge, and is a regular visiting academic Fellow at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her academic study has included qualitative research on psychosocial disability and trauma in northern Uganda. Laura is also an international development consultant, and in 2013, drafted Rwanda’s first mental health legislation. She provides expert advice and training to law firms, NGOs, and governments on all aspects of health care, human rights, justice, and the rule of law.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Health
LAW / International
MEDICAL / Public Health
MEDICAL / Mental Health
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues