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Mental health in adversity: an ethnographic study of the experience of poor mental health in the favelas of São Paulo

Abstract

Mental Health in Adversity: the favelas of Sapopemba - is an ethnographic study of the experience of poor mental health in the favelas of Sapopemba, a highly disadvantaged district in the South-East of the São Paulo municipality containing about 46 favelas, and the role of peer and professional support for those experiencing mental distress. This is part of a programme of work initiated by Professor Nikolas Rose, in 2013to examine the relationship between urban living and mental health. The current application builds on this, together with the work completed in Phase One of this study, funded by FAPESP, whose aim was to provide a platform for developing this work in the megacities of Brazil, with a focus on São Paulo. This second phase of the project builds on our pilot study through deep and intensive ethnographic work on the lived experience of those living in adversity and experiencing mental ill health, and their relation with formal and informal services. Conceptually the project will deepen our understanding of the ways in which social adversity shapes mental distress and the factors that increase vulnerability or support resilience amongst those who live in the favelas. The aim is to inform policies for the development of more effective practices of professional and para-professional mental health workers in the favelas of São Paulo and to help develop networks of peer support for those experiencing mental distress who are not in touch with formal mental health services. (AU)