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AMHIG meeting minutes – November 16, 2012

Anthropology & Mental Health Interest Group Meeting, 11/16/12

 San Francisco, CA


1)     Introductions

  1. a.       Everyone went around the room and introduced themselves
  2. b.      Roughly fifty people in attendance – good turnout!


2)     Much of the discussion entailed a discussion on communication and dissemination. One option discussed was developing a newsletter. A periodic compendium of research and commentaries on the socio-cultural dimensions of mental health could provide a very unique contribution to both anthropology and the mental health field. Among some of the more established SIGs, this is a very popular medium. (On the other hand, this may be an artifact of having been around in the pre-internet age). Some key questions:

  1. a.       Who would edit it?
  2. b.      Who would contribute?
  3. c.       Themed editions?


Action: If there are any members who would like to develop this initiative, please contact me or post your interest on the listserv.


3)     Major question of the discussion:

  1. a.       How are we different from other groups, such as SPA or SMA?
  2. b.      We have a wide variety of backgrounds in our group: (researchers, practitioners, activists, a large cohort of members residing outside North America, members form disciplines other than anthropology).  Some in attendance also remarked that mental health as a topic area tends to be peripheral to both SMA’s and SPA’s topical focus.
  3. c.       There was a firm consensus that  AMHIG should take a “big tent” approach both to topical interests and to members’ disciplinary training and work environment.


4)     Website discussion

  1. a.       How do we keep in touch?
  2.                                                    i.      Website?  LinkedIn group?  Facebook?  Blog?
  3.                                                  ii.      Will the format of the listserv change?
  4. b.      One suggestion: decide on a format and stick with it, because otherwise it will get too complicated to have a lot of websites, especially if they’re not uniformly updated
  5. c.       The SMA is updating the format of their website
  6.                                                    i.      The SMA also has a new webmaster, so we could ask him to help us with our blog or website
  7.                                                  ii.      We’ll need to elect a webmaster
  8.                                                iii.      An organizational logo would also be highly desirable


Action:  Developing an active web presence was seen as among our most important tasks for the coming year.  We urgently need a cohort of members to develop this initiative. Please consider volunteering. Likewise, if you are graphically inclined, please consider helping us to design a logo.


5)     We’ll need to elect a chair/co-chair at the very least


Action: Currently, Michael Duke and Shir Lerman are serving as the de facto (and unelected!) Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. If anyone else has an interest in taking on one of these positions, feel free to nominate yourself. Should any additional nominees come forward, we will put it to a vote by the groups’ membership.


6)     Beginning in January, we will receive $100/year from SMA: how do we want to spend it?

  1. a.       Scholarship?  Competition for a paper?  Food/drinks at a meeting?
  2. b.      Also, although SIGs are precluded from collecting dues, there is a mechanism in place for those interested in donating to AMHIG.


Action: Encourage discussion regarding the use of these funds on the listserv.


7)     Do we want to host our own panels at future meetings? Although technically we are precluded from “officially” hosting AAA panels (only AAA sections are allowed to do this), we can unofficially sponsor panels via the SMA. Some members discussed the use of panels as a way to raise the profile of AMHIG, and of mental health research and activism more generally, within AAA.


Action: Encourage members to develop AMHIG-related panels for AAA, SPA, SMA, SfAA, and other relevant conferences


8)     Where does our policy statement go from here?

  1. a.       Doug Feldman (SMA president) came by our meeting to welcome us to the SMA and to discuss SMA’s policy statement initiative
  2. b.      Apparently we are one of only 3 SMA SIGs to submit a policy topic (focusing, you may recall, on the social determinant of mental health).  Hurray for us!
  3. c.       How does it develop from here (and who will develop it)? You may recall that we had established an ad hoc committee (consisting of Whitney Duncan, Phoenix Freeman, Shir Lerman, Sara Lewis, and myself) to solicit policy topics from our members, set up a voting procedure, and tabulate the votes. However, this does not necessarily need to be the same committee that will develop the policy statement.


Action: Encourage members to join the policy committee and develop a timeline for completing the policy statement.

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