A global mental health opportunity: How can cultural concepts of distress broaden the construct of immobility?

  • 2022•11•01

    Mary C. Harasym, Emmanuel Raju, Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson

    (Im)mobility studies often focus on people on the move, neglecting those who stay, are immobile, or are trapped. The duality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis creates a global mental health challenge, impacting the most structurally oppressed, including immobile populations. The construct of immobility is investigated in the context of socio-political variables but lacks examination of the clinical psychological factors that impact immobility. Research is beginning to identify self-reported emotions that immobile populations experience through describing metaphors like feeling trapped. This article identifies links in the literature between Cultural Concepts of Distress drawn from transcultural psychiatry and immobility studies. Feeling trapped is described in mental health research widely. Among (im)mobile people and non-mobility contexts, populations experience various mental health conditions from depression to the cultural syndrome, nervios. The connection of feeling trapped to CCD research lends itself to potential utility in immobility research. The conceptualisation can support broadening and deepening the comprehension of this global mental health challenge – how immobile populations’ experience feeling trapped. To broaden the analytical framework of immobility and incorporate CCD, evidence is needed to fill the gaps on the psychological aspects of immobility research.

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