Social Sciences staff make a knowledge exchange visit to India

Staff from the School of Social Sciences accompanied a group from the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board on a knowledge exchange visit to India earlier this year.

Head of School Professor Catherine Robinson and Rob Poole, Professor of Social Psychiatry, joined Professor Peter Lepping, Dr Brian Tehan and Mr Simon Pyke for the inaugural Indo-European Symposium on Coercion, held in Mysore, where each of the North Wales contingent made an individual presentation to the scientific programme. The visit received financial support from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board charitable funds and Bangor University.

During the visit, a series of research meetings took place between the North Wales cohort – all members of the Centre for Mental Health and Society – and Mysore clinical academics. Active research collaborations have long been established between Dr Raveesh B.N. (Professor of Psychiatry at Mysore Medical College and Research Institute), Dr Murali Krishna (formerly Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist in BCUHB, presently Welcome Research Fellow at Holdsworth Memorial Hospital, Mysore), and Professors Lepping, Poole and Robinson.

Catherine Robinson and Rob Poole had the further honour of being invited to make a presentation on research methods to a closed international meeting of the Society for the Natal Effects on Health in Adults, as part of the Medical Research Council birth cohort study in Mysore.

As a result of these research meetings, three substantial research threads have been established between North Wales and Mysore on deliberate self harm, coercion and human rights in mental health practice, and development of novel research methods in Indian settings.

Organised by Peter Lepping and Dr Raveesh, the Symposium on Coercion was a collaboration between the recently formed Indian Forensic Mental Health Association (IForMHA) and the European Violence in Psychiatry Research Group (EViPRG). Affiliated with the Indiad Psychiatric Society, the IFormHA is the first association of its kind in South Asia. Alongside the launch of IForMHA, senior Indian and European contributors composed and signed a declaration on the minimisation of coercion in mental health practice, known as the Mysore Declaration. The core declaration states:

‘There is an urgent need for the recognition and implementation of the rights of persons with mental illness, following principles with regard to equality, security, liberty, health, integrity and dignity of all people, with a mental illness or not. All parties responsible for the care and treatment of mental illness should work towards the elimination of all forms of discrimination, stigmatization, and violence, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. We affirm that coercion or violence against persons with mental illness constitutes a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms, and impairs or nullifies their enjoyment of those rights and freedoms. We will strive to uphold the human rights of persons with mental illness. We will work towards the prevention of violation, promotion and protection of their rights.’

Publication date: 6 March 2013