SOWK 440J/571: Global Mental Health (2022S)


SOWK 440J/571 is a 3 credit course that will take place in Nairobi, Kenya and will be taught by Professor Mohamed Ibrahim. The course will run over 4 weeks in May 2022 and will include community-based attachments.

Course Description

Global Mental Health: Praxis Course introduces students to an emerging and important global mental health field. Global mental health is an area of study, research, and practice that places a priority on improving mental health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide (Patel, 2012). This elective will introduce students to advanced competencies in global health practice and research, such as the global burden of mental health, social and economic determinants of mental health, the globalization of biomedical psychiatry, global mental health governance, human rights, and equity. Students will discuss practical and ethical challenges in delivering care in low-resource settings, describe tools, and strategies to address the needs of specific vulnerable populations, especially urban refugees in resource limited countries. They will also examine cultural awareness and its importance in caring for a diverse population.

Risk: COVID-19

The program will adhere to the recommendations from UBC and Global Affairs Canada on travel, including an analysis of COVID transmissions, vaccination rates, travel requirements regarding vaccination, etc.


According to the Global Burden of Diseases report, mental illness is considered to be among the top 10 diseases causing disability globally. Social workers practicing in international settings can play a role in policy development, health education and promotion, direct provision of psychosocial interventions, assessment, referral/linkage, and mobilization of self-help, mediation, advocacy, community development, public education and research.

This premier global mental health course provides an opportunity for social workers to gain the necessary knowledge and skills required to work as a mental health practitioner in a global context. This course is located in Kenya to ground the concepts of global mental health in a specific non-western context. Western knowledge and ways of knowing are often privileged and globalized to the Global South. This is often at the expense of Indigenous and local culturally and spiritually appropriate psychosocial and spiritual interventions. Students will be partnered with local mental health organizations to observe and learn from local experts.


Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim PhD, MSW, RN, is an Assistant Professor at UBC’s School of Social Work and an internationally trained scholar and clinician. He has an expertise in the content, lived experience in the area, and a strong network of local human service organizations and  professional colleagues to assist in the facilitation of the course content.


More Information

Open to all social work students with a BSW standing or a MSW standing by January 2022. Students who are entering their 4th year in September 2021 have the option of taking SOWK 440J in May. Fourth year BSW students are eligible and encouraged to take this course; please note that students will need to convocate in November 2022 rather than May 2022. A certificate of BSW completion can be provided to graduating students for future employers in the interim until they receive their diploma.

Students in other health professions, such as Nursing and Public Health, are encouraged to apply. Strong applications from students who are not in a health professional program may also be considered.

For the final round of selection, preference will be given to 4th year and Masters level students.

Round 1 deadline: Dec 5, 2021, 11:59 PM PST

Round 2 deadline: Jan 16, 2022, 11:59 PM PST

Round 3/ Final Round deadline: Mar 6, 2022, 11:59 PM PST

Interested students are encouraged to apply through the application link below. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. We encourage interested students to apply as soon as possible.

Please note: A program meeting will be conducted for selected students on March 4th 2022, Friday from 4:30-6:00pm. We request you to keep your availability open for this time in order to attend the meeting you may be invited to. Thank you.

There are program fees, outside of tuition, for this course. The finalized cost per student is yet to be confirmed, but will be within the range listed below.

Full Program: $3,900-$4,400

Estimated Flight cost: $2000, Flight cost with ARA Funding: $600

Fee with ARA Funding: $1,170-1,320

  • Program cost includes:
  • Pre-departure learning sessions at UBC
  • Room and board
  • Transportation from the airport to your placement site
  • Orientation in host country
  • In-session debrief and workshop part way through your placement
  • Reflection materials
  • Community partner management fee
  • Program management fee

*Fees may be adjusted before offer. Program costs vary primarily due to cost of living expenses per country and region. Placements may be in other countries where ISL community partners are located.

Program fees do not include the cost of tuition.

Please see the Funding Opportunities section below for information on awards that are available to cover some of the cost of the program.

Arts Research Abroad Award

Students in this course are eligible to be assessed for the ARA award. This award is granted to the top academic performers in the program, who meet all eligibility criteria. Decisions of who will be awarded the ARA funding will be made after selection for the program has been completed. Limited numbers of ARA awards are available. All students will be assessed automatically for the award. No separate application is necessary.

The ARA award will offset up to 70% of the cost. In cases of demonstrated financial need (determined by Enrollment Services), ARA may fund up to 100% of the program costs and flight.

  • To meet the minimum requirements for ARA funding for SOWK 440J/571, you must:
  • Be a third year, fourth year, or Masters Faculty of Arts student
  • Be based at the Vancouver campus
  • Be enrolled in a qualifying major for the course (Social Work)
  • Have a minimum of 70% in the top 24 credits of the previous academic year
  • Priority will be given to students that have 75% in the top 27 credits of the previous academic year (2018/19)
  • Be enrolled in 24 credits in the Winter Session prior to the program

Regional and International Service Learning Award

This $1500 award is open to all UBC students participating in SOWK 440J/571. Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Have a minimum GPA of 70% in the top 21 credits of the previous academic year. Priority will be given to students that have 75% in the top 27 credits of the previous academic year.
  • Be enrolled in at least 24 credits in the current academic year or enrolled in maximum sufficient credits to satisfy graduation requirements if this is your final year.

When you apply to any eligible program, you will be automatically assessed for the Regional and International Service Learning Award.
Note: Only one Award can be held at a time. The award that has a higher value is automatically applied.

The next Zoom information session is TBD. The course professor Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim and ORICE director, Tamara Baldwin will both be present.