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Webinar: Culture, Violence, and Mental Well-Being—Understanding Culture’s Double-Edged Sword

November 22, 2017 @ 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM


  • Violence Motivated by Cultural Identity:  How Social Neuroscience Can Contribute to Strategies for Intervention, James Griffith, MD, Leon M. Yochelson Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Charlottesville: Before and After 8/12/17;  What are the Lessons? Richard Lawrence Merkel, MD, PhD, Director of Psychiatric Medicine and Specialty Care Core of the Southeastern Mental Health Research Center; Director of Outreach for the Department of Psychiatry, University of Virginia
  • Roots and Wings: The Place of Culture in the Treatment Plan Cécile Rousseau, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, McGill University; Scientific Director of SHERPA, a research Institute on health and cultural diversity

Learning Objectives

By the end of the webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate how activation of person-to-person social cognition can inhibit inter-group conflict motivated by cultural identity.
  • Describe the complexity of issues of identity, culture, race, and trauma in the historical moment.
  • Contextualize the place of culture in the treatment plan.

About the Presenters / Moderator

James Griffith, MD (presenter), is Leon M. Yochelson Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The GWU School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC.  Dr. Griffith received his M.D. in 1976, followed by Neurology Residency and an MS in Neurophysiology at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in 1979.  He completed Psychiatry Residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in 1983, followed by a Clinical and Research Fellowship in 1985. Dr. Griffith has developed a model of psychiatric residency training that balances biological and psychosocial therapies in the treatment of patients within their family, community, and cultural contexts. He provides psychiatric treatment for immigrants, refugees, and survivors of political torture in the Program for Survivors of Torture and Severe Trauma (PSTT) at Northern Virginia Family Services. Under his leadership, the GWU Dept. of Psychiatry has become nationally recognized for its excellence in global mental health, psychotherapy training, neurosciences education, and psychosomatic medicine.  In his clinical practice at The GW Medical Faculty Associates, he treats psychosomatic disorders, psychiatric complications of medical illnesses, and other problems of couples and families.  He has been named a Washingtonian magazine Top Doctor.

Richard Lawrence (“Larry”) Merkel, MD, PhD (presenter), graduated from University of Virginia School of Medicine and then did a residency in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.  Afterwards he was a Robert Woods Johnson Clinical Scholar and a Senior Fellow at The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Care Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.  He later received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. Since coming to the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia in 1990 he has been Director of Psychiatric Medicine and Specialty Care Core of the Southeastern Mental Health Research Center at UVa.  He is also the Director of Outreach for the Department of Psychiatry through which he has expanded the use of telepsychiatry and oversees the Global Mental Health Program.  He is an Associate Professor and spends about half his time teaching psychopathology, social and cultural psychiatry, the history of psychiatry, and psychotherapy to psychiatry residents.  He is a clinical supervisor in the out-patient clinic, as well as seeing patients. He has had clinical and research experience with international and minority university students, various refugee groups, the Maori of New Zealand, and is presently focusing on Appalachian populations.  He is exploring a cultural psychiatry understanding of “Nerves” in the Appalachian populations of SW Virginia.  He has also worked with Middle Eastern Psychiatrists in establishing training programs for Middle Eastern Primary Care doctors in diagnosing and treating mental health concerns. He has won teaching awards at the University of Virginia and is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Educators at the University of Virginia.  He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and in 2007 was presented with the Irma Bland Award for Excellence in Teaching Psychiatry Residents, by the American Psychiatric Association.

Cécile Rousseau, MD (presenter), is professor of psychiatry at McGill University and scientific Director of the Research Institute on health and cultural diversity SHERPA. She has worked extensively with immigrant and refugee communities, developing specific school based interventions and leading policy oriented research. Presently her research focuses on the evaluation of collaborative mental health care models for youth in multiethnic neighborhoods and on intervention and prevention programs to address youth radicalization.

Kenneth Fung, MD (moderator), is a Staff Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the Asian Initiative in Mental Health Program at the Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network. He is also Associate Professor with Equity, Gender, and Populations Division at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto and President-Elect of the SSPC.


Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture
(484) 416-3915