culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

Cristian Montenegro

Research Fellow, The Healing City

Research Interests

I’m a qualitative health researcher with a background in sociology, community psychology and public health. I’m interested in the set of exchanges between health and democracy at the micro (service-user experiences, participation and engagement) and macro-levels (health-related social movements, democratic transitions and health care policy, human rights and grassroots advocacy in health), with a focus on Latin America. I have conducted research on the experiences of caregivers of persons with psychosocial disabilities and their interaction with care providers, service-user and survivor activism in MH, the political and administrative dimensions of community participation in healthcare policy, the sociopolitical contexts of psychiatric deinstitutionalisation and the social and cultural aspects of early intervention in psychosis. For this, I have used ethnography, oral history, in-depth interviews and documentary analysis.

Currently, I’m concluding an oral history project centred on the transformation of a large psychiatric hospital in Santiago’s outskirts, during and after dictatorship (1980-2010). The project reveals that deinstitutionalisation encompasses many subtle changes and tensions invisible to the metrics or progress used to describe health services transformation. In the case of Chile, these changes are shaped by a complex tension between the normative imperatives of “community mental health” and a neoliberal definition of State’s responsibilities that reinforced abandonment.

At the centre I will be working on “The Healing City” research theme, developing a new line of research around health, protest and space. I’m particularly interested in how forms of emotional, legal and medical care emerge and respond to unaccountable police brutality in the context of recent, large-scale protests, and on how these informal care infrastructures shape (and are shaped by) the spatial and affective atmosphere of urban unrest.



I obtained a PhD from the LSE’s Department of Methodology in 2018, with a thesis on the emergence of mental health service-user activism in Chile and its receptions in mental health policy. After that, I was an Assistant Professor at the Nursing School of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) and a formal advisor to the Department of Mental Health of the Chilean Ministry of Health.

I’m a founding member of the Platform for Social Research in Mental Health in Latin America (PLASMA), an Editorial Board Member of Critical Public Health, PLOS Global Public Health and part of Somatosphere’s editorial collaborative. I’m affiliated to the Chilean Millennium Institute for Research on Depression and Personality (MIDAP), and I serve as an advisory board member for the WHO World Mental Health Report 2021.


Recent Publications

Jiménez-Molina, Á., Abarca-Brown, G., & Montenegro, C. (2019). “No hay salud mental sin justicia social”: Desigualdades, determinantes sociales y salud mental en Chile. [Trans: “No mental health without social justice: Inequalities, social determinants and mental health in Chile.] Revista de Psiquiatría Clínica, 57.

Irarrazaval, M., Norambuena, P., Montenegro, C., Toro-Devia, O., Vargas, B., & Caqueo-Urízar, A. (2021). Public Policy Responses to Address the Mental Health Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence From Chile. Frontiers in Public Health, 9, 1407. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2021.590335

Montenegro, C. R., & Szabzon, F. (2021). Co-production? We do community participation. Experiences and perspectives in the context of the COVID-19 crisis from Latin America. In P. Beresford, M. Farr, G. Hickey, M. Kaur, J. Ocloo, D. Tembo, & O. Williams (Eds.), COVID-19 and Co-production in Health and Social Care Research, Policy and Practice: Volume 1: The Challenges and Necessity of Co-production. Policy Press. https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/48755

Mascayano, F., Alvarado, R., Martínez-Viciana, C., Irarázaval, M., Durand-Arias, S., Freytes, M., Montenegro, C. R., Susser, E., & Bruni, A. (2021). 30 years from the Caracas Declaration: The situation of psychiatric hospitals in Latin America and the Caribbean prior, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, s00127-021-02100–02101. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-021-02100-1

Abimbola, S., Asthana, S., Montenegro, C. R., Guinto, R. R., Jumbam, D. T., Louskieter, L., Kabubei, K. M., Munshi, S., Muraya, K., Okumu, F., Saha, S., Saluja, D., & Pai, M. (2021). Addressing power asymmetries in global health: Imperatives in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. PLOS Medicine, 18(4), e1003604. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003604

Montenegro, C. R., Bravo, P., Dois, A., & Rodriguez, C. (2021). Experiencia usuaria en salud: Hacia un modelo de atención que escucha a los usuarios. Centro de Políticas Públicas UC, 16(134), 16.

Tembo, D., Hickey, G., Montenegro, C. R., Chandler, D., Nelson, E., Porter, K., Dikomitis, L., Chambers, M., Chimbari, M., Mumba, N., Beresford, P., Ekiikina, P. O., Musesengwa, R., Staniszewska, S., Coldham, T., & Rennard, U. (2021). Effective engagement and involvement with community stakeholders in the co-production of global health research. BMJ, 372, n178. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n178

Montenegro, C. R., & Ortega, F. (2020). Thinking beyond implementation: Context and culture in global mental health. BMJ Global Health, 5(12), e004539. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-004539