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Dr Ursula Read uses ethnographic and participatory methods to explore experiences of mental illness and social exclusion and the impact of interventions to expand access to mental health care and promote human rights. Her research is also concerned with the social and structural determinants of health and the potential of community resources, such as places of worship, for health promotion.

From 2016-17, she was a Research Fellow at the Centre de Recherche, Médecine, Sciences, Santé, Santé mentale, Société (CERMES3) in Paris, France. She worked on the European Research Council project, 'Globhealth: from international public health to global health', investigating the emergence of rights-based approaches to mental health in Ghana.

Prior to this, Ursula was a Medical Research Council (MRC) Career Development Fellow at the University of Glasgow, where she conducted qualitative research on the social determinants of health and well-being as part of 'Determinants of Young Adult Social Wellbeing and Health' (DASH), a large cohort study of young people from ethnic minorities in London.

Ursula has a PhD in anthropology from University College London, based on an ethnography of family experiences of mental illness and help-seeking in Ghana. Previously she worked as an occupational therapist in mental health services in London.


  • Global mental health and human rights
  • Mental health in low-income settings (particularly sub-Saharan Africa)
  • Traditional and faith healing
  • Social determinants of mental health

Since 2005, Ursula has conducted extensive fieldwork in Ghana, focusing on the impact of mental illness on family life and social inclusion, moral and ethical dilemmas around care and consent, and the relationship between psychiatric services and traditional and faith healers. She also uses qualitative methods to evaluate community-based interventions for non-communicable diseases in the Caribbean.

Further details

See Ursula's research profile