Quick update: Sharing an ethnopsychiatry approach to clinical care and advocacy

Photo of a Nigerian refugee woman wearing a royal blue headscarf

Violence and hunger drive people around the world to seek asylum in foreign nations, amid cultural and political climates that are often hostile to their presence. The unique traumas and obstacles faced by refugees, many of whom are also victims of torture and human trafficking, demand an ‘ethnopsychiatric’ approach to mental health care and advocacy. Unfortunately, the mental health care needs of these persons are often overlooked, misinterpreted, or ineffectively treated, leading to further systemic and interpersonal victimization in their host countries.

A very special clinic in Turin, Italy is working to change that.

The care at Frantz Fanon Center in Turin “blends and changes practices and models according to social, political and cultural change, as well as to institutional constraints. The aim of the approach is to plan and carry out appropriate therapeutic and rehabilitation interventions within the community and with community and family members, while reducing the risk of medicalization, drug over-prescription, and diagnostic biases as well as other risks. Our work is influenced by dialogical and systemic approaches to psychotherapy, and informed by the regulatory and legal risks experienced by victims of structural violence, by the clinical risks for individuals from non Western/biomedical perspectives.”

With the help of French documentarian Joris Lachaise and a small grant from Open Excellence, Frantz Fanon Center will release a short film in early 2022 which reflects on its decolonized model of care, “not just denouncing racism and inequality in mental health services but actively constructing a new model of practices and processes.”

The film will feature firsthand accounts from those who have received care at the Center and will serve as a catalyst to spread the knowledge and practice of this kind of responsive, culturally-relevant care to other communities and nations.

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Project managers have capitalized on pandemic-related delays by publishing a new article, “Thiaroye, Les mots et les corps. Une contre-histoire de la folie”* which will appear as a book chapter in the forthcoming Biopolitiques africaines? Esquisses sénégalaises** (Paris, Karthala, 2021).

History of the Frantz Fanon Center

The work of Frantz Fanon Center founder Roberto Beneduce and his colleagues has roots in the life and work of World War Two veteran and celebrated Martiniquan psychiatrist Frantz Fanon. Dr. Fanon’s writing has inspired racial justice leaders around the world and the emerging field of critical ethnopsychiatry.

 

* Thiaroye, Words and bodies. A counter-history of madness

** African biopolitics? Senegalese sketches

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