Examining the Influence of Traditional Community Practices on Mental Health

Fellowship Event


United States

Join the June RSA US Virtual Salon on: Examining the Influence of Traditional Community Practices on Mental Health

Mental health problems and the factors contributing to them such as loneliness, social isolation, substance abuse, financial and personal struggle are staggeringly common and consistent across all age groups and demographics. Deterioration in mental health is directly related to the breakdown of our communities and the loss of robust support networks as a consequence. The response to this pattern is limited by institutional capacity, and people presenting to their doctor in emotional distress, often because they have no one else to turn to, are either offered very little or are shuttled down a ‘one size fits all’ treatment path that is often not appropriate to their particular need.


Certain populations, especially those from Indigenous communities, have a stronger sense of community and carry out community practices that are enhancing to mental health and supporting people in a non-"medicalized" way. Practices such as talking circles, which originated in Indigenous cultures, have more recently been adopted as a Western therapeutic tool used to address the factors and symptoms of mental health problems. They also empower communities to take on a support role for the mental health of their members. Join the moderator, Sophie Resin, UK Family Practitioner, FRSA, in examining the breakdown of community, rising mental health issues, and the role that community practices can play in treating mental health symptoms.


Sophie has been granted the opportunity to learn more about North American Indigenous culture and traditional practices through a 2019 Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. She will travel to a series of locations across North America (Maine, Arizona, Hawaii and Alaska) to live within communities, speak to community members and practitioners and observe traditional practices where possible; all in the hope that this new knowledge will not only make her a better doctor but will equip her to challenge the ideas of medical colleagues and the wider general public on how we view mental health and allow for improvements to the current system.


Join this Salon to discuss questions such as:

  1. What is the role of community in mental health?
  2. How do we better support mental health in our lives and communities?
  3. How do we bring some of these practices into the workplace?
  4. What are the core ingredients of a healthy and supportive community that are necessary for mental health treatment?
  5. What are the barriers in getting more community-oriented approaches to mental health institutionalized?

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