China Mills

Dr China Mills PhD, BSc (Hons)

Lecturer in Critical Educational Psychology
Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 8176
Room: 8.04, The School of Education

Research Interests
China explores the psycho-political effects of the globalisation of the psy-disciplines, the medications and mentalities they elicit, and how they shape our very understandings of ourselves and of the social conditions in which our lives are embedded. She is interested in exploring how the psy-disciplines and psychotropic drugs function in local and global contexts of entrenched inequality, chronic poverty, (neo)colonial oppression, and increasingly under the politics of austerity. China published the book ‘Decolonizing Global Mental Health: the Psychiatrization of the Majority World’ (Routledge), which draws on research with NGOs and user-survivor organisations in India, and analyses global mental health policies as forms of colonial discourse. She has since published work on the mental health-poverty nexus, mental health and international development, and on poverty, stigma and social isolation. Previously China worked with the Hearing Voices Network in the UK, and has grown up alongside family members who hear voices, and who have a Schizophrenia diagnosis.



China is director of the MA Psychology and Education. China teaches on the BA Education, Culture and Childhood, and leads the first year Child Psychology module. She also teaches on the MA in Education; on the MSc Psychology and Education; and on the EdD programme. She supervises a diverse range of PhD students.

China's teaching philosophy is rooted in the respect of student diversity and the co-creation of knowledge within the learning environment. She has supported a diverse range of students, many of whom have English as an additional language, experience mental health issues, and/or have additional needs.
China enjoys supporting her students to write for publication, and has co-authored a journal paper (currently under review) with a previous MA Psychology and Education student (Beth Barker). The paper is titled: 'The psy goes to school: ADHD and psychologisation in a UK primary school'. She is also co-authoring a book chapter on global mental health with one of her PhD students - Lindsay Miller.

In 2015 China was nominated by Student Voice for an Academic Award for ‘Best feedback'.

Research Activities

China is on the editorial Board for the journals Disability and the Global South: An International Journal, and the Annual Review of Critical Psychology (ARCP).
She is a member of the editorial collective for Asylum: a magazine for democratic psychiatry.
She is an Associate Fellow of The Critical Institute and a visiting researcher at the University of Helsinki, affiliated to the Nordic Centre of Excellence (Finland).
China is a reviewer for Sociology of Health and Illness, was section editor for the Springer Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology, and is an editorial advisor the Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane book series.

China is a member of the Sheffield Centre for Critical Psychology and Education, and a fellow of the Sheffield Institute for International Development.

She is a member of the editorial collective of the journal Critical Social Policy.

China is currently working on a number of projects and publications.

Making mental health count: With Dr Eva Hilberg she is looking at the ways mental health is made to 'count' globally through the intersections of technology and quantification.

The psycho-and necro-politics of economic suicide: China is currently working on analysing suicide notes that have been written to, or name, the state as responsible for making life unlivable (in the context of European austerity and Indian economic and agricultural policy).

British Values and counter-terrorism: China is working with Dr Chris Winter on a psychopolitical analysis of the British Values-Mental Health assemblage within English schools.

China's research has been featured in the Indian Express, Discover Society, the Conversation, and on a number of blogs, including the Weeks Centre for Social Policy, Mad in America, and the Critical Race and Ethnicities Network.

Other experience

From a young age, China has been an ally of the psychiatric user/survivor movement, and carried out research with the Hearing Voices Network, with young people who hear voices, some of whom had a schizophrenia diagnosis. China used to work on the helpline for the Hearing Voices Network in Manchester, and has facilitated a number of workshops on the approach of the Network in India. Previously, China worked as a research officer at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford, looking at the intersections between social isolation, stigma and poverty.



Mills, C. (2014). Decolonizing Global Mental Health: The Psychiatrization of the Majority World. Routledge, London and New York.

Journal Special Issues

Mills, C. and Fernando, S. (2014). Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South? Mapping the Ethics, Theory and Practice of Global Mental Health. Disability and the Global South (DGS): An International Journal, 1(2).

Mills, C., Harper, D. and Spandler, H. (2012). Intersections between disability studies and the psychiatric survivor movement. Asylum Magazine, 19(2).

Journal Papers

Mills, C. (in press). ‘Dead people don't claim’: a psychopolitical autopsy of UK austerity suicides. Critical Social Policy.

Mills, C. (in press). ‘Invisible problem’ to global priority: The inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Development and Change.

Howell, A., Mills, C. and Rushton, S. (2017). The (Mis)appropriation of HIV/AIDS advocacy strategies in Global Mental Health: Towards a more nuanced approach. Globalization and Health, 

Klein, E. and Mills, C. (2017). Psy-expertise, therapeutic culture and the politics of the personal in development. Third World Quarterly 

Samuel, K., Alkire, S., Hammock, J., Mills, C. and Zavaleta, D. (2017). Social Isolation and its Relationship to Multidimensional Poverty. Oxford Development Studies (Online first). 

Zavaleta, D., Samuel, K. and Mills, C. (2016). Measures of Social Isolation. Social Indicators Research, online, 1-25.

Mills, C. (2015). The Psychiatrization of Poverty: Rethinking the mental health-poverty nexus. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 9(5), 213-222.

Mills, C. (2015). Symptom, seduction, subversion: Reading resistance to psychiatry through a post-colonial lens. CUSP: critical cultures and cultural critiques in psychology, 1, 22-46. 

Mills, C. and Fernando, S. (2014). Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South? Mapping the Ethics, Theory and Practice of Global Mental Health. Disability and the Global South (DGS): An International Journal, 1(2), 188-202.

Mills, C. (2014). Psychotropic Childhoods: Global Mental Health and Pharmaceutical Childhoods. Children and Society, 28(1):1-11.

Kumar, M. and Mills, C. (2013). Resounding Echoes from Afar: De-familiarizing Psychology in India. Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 10; 549-576. 

Mills, C. (2012). Special “Treatment”, Special Rights: Dis/abled Children as Doubly Diminished Identities. Freeman, M. (Ed.), Law and Childhood: Current Legal Issues, 14: 862-898. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Mills, C. (2011). Disrupting ‘Disability’ and ‘Doing’ it differently: Professional Talk and Children’s Lives. Ethnographica: Journal of Culture and Disability (EJCD), 1(1): 12-24. 

Book Chapters

Mills, C. (2017). Psychopharmaceuticals as ‘essential medicines’: local negotiations of global access to psychotherapeutic medicines in India. In Davies, J. (Ed). The Sedated Society: The Causes and Harms of our Psychiatric Drug Epidemic. London and New York: Springer. pp. 227-248.

Mills, C. (2017). Global Psychiatrization and Psychic Colonization: The Coloniality of Global Mental Health. In Morrow, M. and Halinka Malcoe, L. (Eds.) Critical Inquiries for Social Justice in Mental Health. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 87-109.

Mills, C. and White, R. (2017). Efforts to Scale-up Mental Health Services in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). In White, R., Read, U., Jain, S. and Orr, D. (Eds.). The Palgrave Handbook of Global Mental Health: Socio-cultural Perspectives. Palgrave. pp. 187-210.

Mills, C. (in press). The mad are like savages and the savages are mad: psychopolitics and the coloniality of the psy. In Cohen, B. (Eds). Routledge Handbook of Critical Mental Health. London and New York: Routledge.

Mills, C. (2016). Mental Health and the Global Mindset of Development. In Grugel, J. and Hammett, D. (Eds). The Palgrave Handbook of International Development.

Mills, C. and White, R. (2016). Efforts to Scale-up Mental Health Services in LMIC. In White, R., Read, U., Jain, S. and Orr, D. (Eds.). The Palgrave Handbook of Global Mental Health: Socio-cultural Perspectives. Palgrave.

Mills, C. and Davar, B. (2016). A local critique of Global Mental Health. In Grech, S. and Soldatic, K. (eds.). Disability and the Global South: The Critical Handbook. Springer.

Mills, C (2016). Educational Psychology in (times of) Crisis: Psychopolitics and the Governance of Poverty. In Gough, B (Ed.). Handbook of Critical Social Psychology. Palgrave MacMillan.

Mills, C. (2016). Epidemic or Psychiatrization? Children’s mental health in a global context. In Billington, T., Goodley, D., Williams, A. and Corcoran, T. (Eds.) Critical Educational Psychology. Palgrave.

Mills, C. (2015). Personality: Technology, Commodity and Pathology. In I. Parker (ed.). Handbook of Critical Psychology. Routledge.

Mills, C. (2015). Assuming Impairment and Erasing Complexity: The Global Politics of Disablement. In Sapey, B., Anderson, J. and Spandler, H. (eds). Madness and the Politics of Disablement. London: Policy Press.

Mills, C. (2014). Sly Normality: Between Quiescence and Revolt, in Burstow, B., Diamond, S. and LeFrancois, B. (Eds) Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution. McGill University Press.

Mills, C. and Zavaleta, D. (2014). Shame, Humiliation and Isolation: Missing Dimensions of Poverty Analysis and Suffering. In Anderson, R. (Ed.) World Suffering and the Quality of Life. Springer.


Peters, P. and Mills, C. (2017). Dead people don’t claim. Asylum magazine, 24(2):5-7.

‘Suicides linked to austerity: from a psychocentric to a psychopolitical autopsy’. Blog for special issue of Discover Society on ‘Fracturing Societies’. February 1st, 2017. 

My research on young people and global mental health is featured on the MOOC ‘Children’s Rights: an interdisciplinary introduction’. University of Geneva. You can preview this here

‘Making mental health count through digital technology’ (with Eva Hilberg). Blog for Sheffield Institute for International Development. 

‘Why the A Level Psychology is already out of date’ (with Jenny Slater). The Conversation, February 22nd.

‘Making a Mental Note’ (article about my research in India), December 24th 2014, The Indian Express.

Interview for the Movement for Global Mental Health newsletter. 

Mills, C. (2012). Resisting the Movement for Global Mental Health. Asylum Magazine, Vol. 19, No. 1.

Mills, C. (2012). Global Mental Health and Critical Disability Studies, in Sapey, B., Anderson, J. and Spandler, H. (Eds). Distress or Disability: Proceedings of a Symposium Held at Lancaster University. Centre for Disability Research (CeDR) Lancaster University.




2017-18 I am Principal Investigator on ‘Changing behavior through technology: therapeutic culture and the digital revolution’, a project funded by the British Academy Tackling the UK’s International Challenges Fund (£48,799). Dr Elise Klein and Dr Eva Hilberg are the Co-Is. This research has three sites internationally, involving ethnographic case studies in India (use of mental health diagnostic algorithms), Australia (debit card used to regulate spending behaviour of indigenous peoples), and South Africa (app that rewards ‘healthy’ behaviour for those with HIV/AIDS). This project uses psychosocial methods to move beyond an assumption of top-down bio-medicalisation and to employ ethnographic methods to enable a finely tuned focus on the complex constellations through which mental health data and digital technologies are produced, used, reworked, locally appropriated, or resisted; how they re-imagine the diagnostic encounter through engagement with a digital device; and how they mediate new social relations and new ways of being.


Collaborative network on critical approaches to Global Mental Health, funded by Sheffield Institute for International Development (£40, 000). (China is Principal Investigator, working alongside Dr Eva Hilberg, Dr Simon Rushton, and Dr Alison Howell).


Storying Our Chemical Lives: A Design Fiction Workshop - Seed grant funding received from the Faculty of Community & Social Services, Ryerson University (Toronto) ($5000).

Student Engagement Funding with the Critical Race and Ethnicities Network on ‘Intersectionality in Curriculum Decolonization’ (a public event on whiteness, ableism and the curriculum) (£1,500)


ESRC to hold a Festival of Social Science event in November 2015 titled ‘Exploring our chemical lives’ (£1500).

School of Education University of Sheffield seed fund to host the event ’Colonising Madness’: a day workshop with international speakers and 50 participants (co-organised with Professor Dan Goodley) (£1300).

School of Education University of Sheffield seed fund to hold a day long workshop titled ‘Storying Austerity’, with community organisations, activists, and arts practitioners (co-organised with 3 colleagues at the School of Education) (£1300).