Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Dr Yuko Otake

Academic position: Research Fellow (Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow)

Department: IOE Social Research Institute

Email: yuko.otake@ucl.ac.uk 

Website: Yuko Otake


I am taking a chair role for the steering committee for UCL Critical Global Health Network, as Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow. My expertise includes critical global mental health and decolonisation across inter-disciplinary fields of social psychology, anthropology, and global health. 

I started my career as community psychologist in both high-/low-income settings. This raised my awareness of the structural violence leading to health inequity, neocolonialism in international interventions, neglected needs of people on the ground, and missed opportunities to collaborate with community resources, which formed my critical and decolonial approaches to global health. My backgrounds as ethnic minority and my family tradition of Japanese indigenous healers also contributed to my decolonial lens. 

The critical global health initiative is increasingly attracting early career researchers in the current context of post-globalisation and anthropothene. Our Network provides a space for sharing knowledge and experiences, and having discussions on what critical global health and decolonisation are, what inter-disciplinary and inter-sectorial collaboration look like, and how we could inform policies of views from the ground. We are open to anyone who shares similar interests and willingness to work towards critical global health promotion with us.

Research Projects:

All my research outputs discuss decolonization of trauma and global mental health.

  1. Yuko Otake. (2019). ‘Suffering of silenced people in northern Rwanda.’ Social Science & Medicine 222; 171-179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.01.005.
  • Recorded the top 2% of most-read publications on ResearchGate in 2019.
  1. Yuko Otake. (2018). ‘Community resilience and long-term impacts of mental health and psychosocial support in Northern Rwanda.’ Medical Sciences 6(4), 94. https://doi.org/10.3390/medsci6040094
  2. Yuko Otake, Teisi Tamming. (2020). ‘Sociality and temporality in local experiences of distress and healing: ethnographic research in northern Rwanda.’ Transcultural Psychiatry, 40(4), 460–487. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461520949670
  3. Yuko Otake, Fabien Hagenimana. (2021). ‘Gift economy and well-being: a mode of economy playing out in recovery from Rwandan tragedies’ Sustainable Development 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1002/sd.2185
  4. Azusa Saito, Yuko Otake. (2019) ‘What is “consent” for Japanese women? Exploring the processes through which sexual violence happens from a women’s point of view.’ Annals, Public Policy Studies 13; 185-205. http://hdl.handle.net/2115/74441
  • As a co-PI, I proposed a novel culturally-sensitive concept of non-consensual sex based on data analysis, which is now used in the judicial guidelines of Japan.
  1. Mengxin Tan, Yuko Otake, Teisi Tamming, Valerie Akuredusenge, Beatha Uwimana, Fabien Hagenimana. (2021). ‘Local experience of using traditional medicine in northern Rwanda: a qualitative study.’ BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies 21, 210. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03380-5
  2. Teisi Tamming, Yuko Otake. (2020). ‘Linking coping strategies to locally-perceived aetiologies of mental distress in northern Rwanda’ BMJ Global Health 2020;5:e002304. https://gh.bmj.com/content/5/7/e002304
  3. Teisi Tamming, Yuko Otake, Safa’a Aburahma, Mengxin Tan, Anas Shiwstawi, Yahya El-Daour, Khalil Hamad, Akihiro Seita. (2023). ‘Mental health of health professionals and their perspectives on mental health services in a conflict-affected setting: a qualitative study in health centres in the Gaza Strip during the COVID-19 pandemic.’ BMJ Open 2023;13:e066552. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/13/8/e066552
  4. Cleothia Alford, Yuko Otake. (2021). ‘Participants’ experiences of engagement in community-centred mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) programs in conflict-affected communities within sub-Saharan Africa’ BMJ Global Health 2021 Dec;6(12):e005388. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34887301
  5. Yuko Otake, Sonomi Nakajima, Akiko Uno, Shizue Kato, Seiko Sasaki, Eiji Yoshioka, Tamiko Ikeno, Reiko Kishi. (2014). ‘Association between maternal antenatal depression and infant development: a hospital-based prospective cohort study.’ Environmental Health & Preventive Medicine 19(1);30-45. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23913005/