School of Social and Political Science

Pia Noel

Job Title

PhD student

Photo of Pia




PhD Working title 

Politics of need and care - The work of ‘mental health’ in Nepal.

Project description 

My doctoral research is based on thirteen months of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Nepal carried out two years after the 2015 earthquakes and the adoption of the new Constitution that declared the end to the monarch system, restructured the nation into a federal republic and symbolized the transition to a “Naya Nepal” (new Nepal). I worked in the districts of Kathmandu, Kavrepalanchow, Dolakha and Achham among mental health advocates, professionals, and young aspiring psychologists, with a stake in doing, promoting, enabling and/or endorsing mental health work. My research explores the various ways in which "mental health" emerges as an object/area of concern and care in Nepal and provides ethnographic accounts on how the aspirations and ambitions of local actors (e.g. local level policymakers, health professionals, general public) and institutions intersect with transnational mental health projects (e.g. post-disaster mental health and psychosocial support efforts and the global mental health research agenda). 



Wellcome Trust Society & Ethics Doctoral Studentship


2016 – present PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh

2015 – 2016     MSc in Global Mental Health, University of Glasgow                      

2009 – 2013     MA Psychology & Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews

Research interests

Research interests


Susanty, D., Noel, P., Sabeh, M. S., & Jahoda, A. (2020). Benefits and cultural adaptations of psychosocial interventions for parents and their children with intellectual disabilities in low‐and middle‐income countries: A systematic review. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.

Cork, C., White, R. G., Noel, P., & Bergin, N. (2018). Randomized Controlled Trials of Interventions Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review. Trauma, Violence & Abuse.

Noel, P., Cork, C., & White, R. G. (2018). Social capital and mental health in post-disaster/conflict contexts: a systematic review. Disaster medicine and public health preparedness, 1-12.

Noel, P. (2018) [Review of the book The Patient Multiple: An Ethnography of Healthcare and Decision-making in BhutanJonathan Taee, New York: Berghahn Press, 2017, 220 pp.] Medical Anthropology Quarterly DOI: 10.1111/maq.12425

Babalola, E., Noel, P., & White, R. (2017). The biopsychosocial approach and global mental health: Synergies and opportunities. Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry33(4), 291.

Conference Presentations

Noel, P. (2015). Learning from a local response to mental distress in urban Nepal to inform policy and improve practice. Presented at the European Association of Social Anthropologists Conference “Anthropology and Global Health: interrogating theory, policy and practice”. 

Edinburgh Center for Medical Anthropology 

Part of EdCMA (Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology)

Works within