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Wellesley College

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Mongolia: Culture and Development


Questions about the mind have been asked by a variety of peoples and cultures throughout the ages. While fields of psychiatry and psychology have developed in an effort to address these questions, the issue of how to best handle the mentally ill within the framework of society is ultimately a political one. While there has been work done in mapping the attitudes towards mental health, the level of awareness about mental health issues, and the quality of treatment in different institutions, little is known about these topics in a newly developing country like Mongolia. Much of the research on how countries choose to address the subject of the mentally ill has primarily been done in Western developed countries. This project examines the mental health infrastructure in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Private and public hospitals were examined and numerous interviews were conducted with doctors and experts in both sectors.

Data was gathered through a series of interviews including, but not limited to, those with the state mental hospital, private consultation clinics, staff members at the Department of Psychology at the National University of Mongolia, and the Ministry of Health. To get a rough idea about the quality of care from the patients’ perspective, patient observation was conducted in the inpatient and outpatient wards of the National Center for Mental Health (a.k.a. Sharhaad Hospital). Background literature was consulted to gain a better understanding of the psychology/psychiatry aspects of the project. As research progressed, a clear consensus emerged; the quality of mental health care in Ulaanbaatar is still not up to international standards, the system is over-centralized and under funded, and there is a desperate need to diversify treatment options. Almost unanimously, professionals in the field recommended that the government help rectify the situation by increasing funding for mental health in Ulaanbaatar, improving training for doctors at the local, district, and national level, and encouraging the development of the private sector as well as community based health care programs.


Community Health | Mental and Social Health


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