Abstract: Interdisciplinary approaches are crucial to answer major questions in global mental health research. Differences in language, ethnopsychology, healing systems, and local biology contribute to variation in mental health, stress, and resilience across populations and settings. In this session, I discuss challenges in working across and between disciplines to study mental health in Nepal. I describe the ethnographic process used to develop an appropriate vocabulary and ethnopsychological research model. I explore how common mental disorders and suicide-related behaviors among civilian survivors of the Maoist People’s War can be assessed with epidemiological studies that employ biocultural methods such as gene-by-environment risk models and cortisol awakening profiles. I discuss how the intersection of ethnography and epidemiology informs psychotherapeutic interventions for traumatized groups such as Nepali child soldiers and Bhutanese refugees. I conclude by discussing next steps in interdisciplinary research in Nepal through the inception of a project exploring potential epigenetic correlates of trauma and intervention among child soldiers in Nepal.
Bio: Brandon Kohrt conducts global mental health research focusing on populations affected by war-related trauma and chronic stressors of poverty, discrimination, and lack of access to healthcare and education. He completed medical school and a PhD in medical anthropology at Emory University. He currently is completing residency in general psychiatry at The George Washington University. He has worked in Nepal for 16 years using a biocultural developmental perspective integrating epidemiology, cultural anthropology, ethnopsychology, and neuroendocrinology. Since 2000, he has conducted a prospective study of adults in rural Nepal examining the effects of political trauma, ethnic discrimination, gender-based violence, and poverty on mental health. With Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal, he designed and evaluated psychosocial reintegration packages for child soldiers in Nepal. He currently works with The Carter Center Mental Health Liberia Program developing anti-stigma campaigns and family psychoeducation programs. He co-founded the Atlanta Asylum Network for Torture Survivors, for which he was recognized by Physicians for Human Rights with the Navin Narayan Health and Human Rights Leadership Award. In 2009, he started a mental health clinic for Bhutanese refugees. His research has been published in JAMA, Lancet, British Journal of Psychiatry, and Social Science & Medicine. He was a Laughlin Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists and John Spiegel Fellow of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture (SSPC). He is currently a board member of SSPC and technical advisor at TPO-Nepal. Dr. Kohrt has contributed to numerous documentary films including Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army. Next year, Dr. Kohrt will join the faculty of the Duke Global Health Institute and the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.