Where is the Global in Global Mental Health? A Call for Inclusive Multicultural Collaboration

Mental health issues like depression and anxiety heavily affect teenagers, especially in poorer countries. There's an urgent need for research to expand mental healthcare for young people in these areas. However, it's important to collaborate with local communities when designing treatments to ensure they are culturally appropriate.
RCTs with 8421 adolescents
The database of studies examined consisted of 15 randomized controlled trials (RCTs)
Mental health disorders account for 45% of the global disease burden in youths aged 15–29
Only a third of the first authors and overall authors were affiliated with an institution based in a Low- and Middle-Income Country (LMIC)

The Challenge

Mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are a significant global issue, particularly affecting youths in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Factors like poverty, lack of treatment options, and social stigma exacerbate this problem. It's vital to collaborate with local communities to understand and address these challenges efficiently.

The Solution

To avoid imposing Western values and approaches, it's crucial to involve researchers and experts from the LMICs in the design and implementation of mental health interventions. This collaboration ensures culturally valid treatments that acknowledge the local complexities of mental illness experience.

The Study

Our team decided to investigate the extent of multicultural collaboration in mental health intervention research for adolescents in LMICs. We examined a database of 15 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) dealing with various psychological treatments for common adolescent mental health disorders in LMICs.

The Procedure

We evaluated multicultural collaboration by determining the number of first authors and overall authors on the RCT papers affiliated with an institution based in an LMIC. We also considered if the first author’s affiliation was from the same LMIC population as that being studied.

The Results

Our research showed that only a third of the first authors and overall authors were affiliated with an institution based in an LMIC. This finding suggests that the research efforts are primarily driven by researchers based in high-income countries (HICs). Local researchers and experts are not the primary drivers of these research efforts, which may limit the effectiveness of the treatments.

In Conclusion

To develop effective mental health interventions in LMICs, it's crucial to involve local researchers and experts from these regions. Their local sociocultural expertise can help overcome barriers like stigma and improve the acceptability and adoption of treatment interventions. It is not just about collaboration; it's about empowering LMIC researchers and community members to be centrally involved in the research process. This approach will lead to the development of treatments that are socioculturally acceptable and expand access to mental healthcare.

Read our full study.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Explore other cases


Research Informs Our Work

See below on how research guides us every step of the way:

Science can help us shape the future

The goal of our research is to develop interventions that can help youth actualize their life outcomes, identify which interventions work and why, and develop and test novel and accessible approaches to dissemination and scaling in order to maximize our impact.

Open science

Open science allows us to collaborate and share our work with the world. Our data and publications are open access.

Multicultural collaboration

Multicultural and interdisciplinary collaboration amplifies the communities that we serve.

Contextualized research

Research is not done in a silo. It is done with and for communities. Context matters.

"Culture brings us together, and allows us to remain successful across many generations of Shamirians. It is what makes us unique."

Tom Osborn
Founder & CEO | Shamiri