ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Research Committee on
Mental Health and Illness, RC49

RC49 main page

Program Coordinator

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 10.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


Building Networks and Sharing Mental Suffering

Session Organizer
Dirk RICHTER, University of Munster, Switzerland,

Session in English

We propose to organize a section to discuss questions about virtual social networks in relation to mental health and coping. These networks support interactions that are mediated by the worldwide computer network and are capable of structuring secondary (predominantly) and primary (occasionally) sociabilities. Similarly to landform social networks, these Internet networks can mobilize resources and provide social support for their members.

This proposal invites abstracts that discuss the meaning and structure of these new social networks for people who seek advice and support for mental health. Examples include internet discussion groups for people with mental disorders, chat roms, comunication mediated by computers (facebook, orkut, and others), online therapy and more. These online mental health communities are an important vehicle for the creation of social support networks, the dissemination of information on practices of care, and the formation of public opinion about mental health.


Gender and Mental Health

Session Organizers
Ariane PROHASKA, University of Alabama, USA,

Session in English

Social science research indicates that mental health is a gendered process, with men and women experiencing gender-specific diagnoses for mental illness, or social environments that give rise to gender-specific expressions of mental health and wellbeing. While gender differences in relation to depression and anxiety have been well documented, research continues to uncover unique ways in which men and women have different experiences in relation to diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. This proposal invites sociologists to submit 300-word abstracts on the role of gender in relation to mental health. These topics can include, but are not limited to:


HIV/AIDS, Social Inequality, and Social Justice

Session Organizer
James G. LINN, Optimal Solutions for Healthcare, USA,

Session in English

Since 2006 there has been universal acceptance in both the developing and developed world that HIV treatment and related services, including mental health counseling and intervention, and stigma reduction, be available to all. Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized mental health as a basic human right and a principal objective of all healthcare systems. Despite wide spread agreement on these principles, and advances in HIV/AIDS and mental illness treatment, enormous disparities in access to healthcare services in these areas exist between the global south and the northern hemisphere.

This session invites abstracts on HIV and mental health including stigma, mental health service needs of HIV-positive people and their providers, and north/global south disparities in mental health services for persons who are infected with HIV. Research on programs seeking to improve social justice in these areas is especially welcome.


Mental Health and Adolescents

Session Organizer
Takashi ASAKURA, Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan,

Session in English

This session calls for a paper about mental health issues in the adolescent. Each year an estimated 20 per cent of adolescents experience a mental health problem. Today, suicide, self-harm behaviour, bullying and violence, eating disorder, depression, loneliness, delinquency, and drug abuse are prevalent among adolescents not only in developed countries but also developing countries.

Mental health problems experienced in the adolescent can affect their mental health in the adulthood. However, their mental health needs are likely to be overlooked; therefore sufficient health services and/or social support are not available to the adolescent.


Mental Health and Crime

Session Organizer
Jeremy DIXON, University of Bath, United Kingdom,

Session in English

Mental illness and offending may both be designated as deviant forms of behavior. Mentally disordered offenders pose a particular challenge to health, welfare and criminal justice services in terms of how their behavior should be categorized and managed. Offenders themselves are also faced with challenges of how they negotiate and manage their identities. We invite abstracts on any aspect of mental health and crime from a broad range of sociological and inter-disciplinary perspectives. The following list is suggestive but not exhaustive:


Mental Health and the Family

Session Organizer
Silvia KRUMM, Ulm University, Germany,

Session in English

The family is one of the most important social factors that contributed to mental health and illness. There are many interrelations between mental health/illness and the family from impact of parenthood on the course of illness through adverse effects of a mental illness to family members up to family as a buffer against and/or additional risk factor for illness as well as burden of care for relatives with mental health problems. In accordance with changing understanding of mental health the family has been assessed as more or less relevant for mental health treatment.

In this session we will focus on family and mental health/illness from a sociological perspective and we are glad to welcome the submission of abstracts on theoretical and empirical papers that address the various links between mental health/illness and the family.


RC49 Business Meeting


Safety and Mental Health in Contemporary Societies

Session Organizer
Reinhold KILIAN, Ulm University, Germany,

Session in English

Safety is a crucial precondition of human life and the lack of safety in many areas of life has been identified as a major risk factor for the occurrence of mental disorders. Contemporary societies differ largely in the extent they provide basic safety with regard to the provision of food, water, accommodation, health care, protection form violence and constitutionality. However, even people who live in societies who guarantee all of these basics are confronted with increasing economic uncertainties, environmental hazards, international terrorism, and food scandals.

In this symposium an overview on the international research on relationships between several types of uncertainties and mental disorders as well as between safety and mental health should be provided. As contributions to this symposium, abstracts of theoretical papers as well as results of empirical studies are welcome.


Social Change and Mental Health in Asian Countries

Session Organizers
Yuko HIRANO, Nagasaki University, Japan,
Takashi ASAKURA, Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan,

Session in English

This session calls for abstracts about the implication of social changes in Asian countries on mental health and illness. The populations of these countries have been exposed to social, economic, political changes due to industrialization, urbanization, population concentration, democratization, and globalization of market-oriented economy, as well as natural disasters. Topics could include any aspect of mental health in relation to these social changes, or in response to natural disasters that have occurred throughout Asia and Pacific Rim countries in recent years.


The Sociology of Diagnostic Systems and their Emerging Trends

Session Organizer
Kjeld HOGSBRO, Aalborg University, Denmark,

Session in English

Changes in the diagnostic systems DSM and ICD are currently being negotiated, and gaps between science, practice and economic interest are being identified. Biological determinism as well as the concept of chronic disease are being challenged by new scientific developments. Some of the diagnostic categories have been dismissed from the diagnostic systems, and spectrum disorders and dimensional determinants seem to be more strongly supported by research and clinical experience.

What are the consequences for users of psychiatric services concerning personal identity and access to help? How do we understand the complex interaction between different actors in this process? And how does a sociological point of view define the relation between social problems and new diagnostic descriptions? 300-word abstracts of papers dealing with these issues on the macro- and micro-sociological levels are sought for presentation in this session.


Joint Sessions

Click on the session title to read its description and the scheduled day/time.

Conceptions of the Body and Health in High-Risk Organizations

Joint session of RC01 Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution [host committee] , RC49 Mental Health and Illness and RC54 The Body in the Social Sciences



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June 2014