Cristian Montenegro

Cristian Montenegro

Research student

Department of Methodology

About me

PhD working title
“User Organizations and the Chilean Mental Health System: Observing the Construction of an Emergent Boundary”.


The World Health Organization's recent Mental Health Action Plan 2013 - 2020 is being gradually promoted across countries. A key aspect of this plan is the identification of new roles and the distribution of tasks within the mental health field, including organized service users. The call for user involvement is framed upon a long history of user movements and progressive reforms in Europe and the US that have no parallel in Latin America. At the same time, the tools provided by global agents such as the WHO to assess the local existence and characteristics of mental health users’ organizations are based on traditional biomedical indicators that aren’t suited to grasp the contextual conditions of agency shaping the local expression of participation and involvement. 

This kind of circularity produced by global knowledge practices calls for alternative approaches able to objectify issues of power and self-representation, particularly in the context of mental health policy in Latin America, where "users" have only recently moved from a context of total confinement, isolation and silence, and where the struggle for a "voice" needs to be understood vis-a-vis the struggle for an "identity" beyond the disease. A relational and contextual theorisation of power is needed. 

In this context, the aim of my project is to understand how the Chilean Mental Health System observes and constructs the agency and, to a certain extent, the humanity of users, and, conversely, how users, in their current state of organization, observe themselves, their history, and their role in policy-making and societal change, through autonomous organizational practices and oppositional politics.


  • Dr. Flora Cornish, Department of Methodology (LSE)
  • Dr. Hakan Seckinelgin, Department of Social Policy (LSE)


I have a background in sociology from Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano (Chile). During my undergrad years I was particularly interested in social theory, philosophy and epistemology. At an early stage I became professionally involved as a social researcher in the mental health field. After this, the sociological analysis and critique of mental health policies and practices became my main research subject, and my long-term intellectual project, specially due to the richness and complexity of the mental health field, in methodological, philosophical and political terms, and the possibilities it opens to social research and theorization.

Professional and educational experience


  • MSc Health, Community and Development. Department of Social Psychology, LSE (With Distinction).
  • BSc Sociology, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, Chile (With Distinction). 

Professional experience

  • 2011 – 2014: Member of the Chilean Observatory for the Human Rights of Persons with Mental Disabilities
  • 2013 – 2014: Researcher at the Department of Social Participation and Integrated User’s Management, part of the South-East Metropolitan Health Service. Functions: To design and coordinate the “Users Experience in Public Health’s Initiative”.
  • 2013: Research Assistant: “Evaluation of the National Community-Based Rehabilitation Strategy from the perspective of Communities and Local Rehabilitation Teams”, Universidad Andres Bello’s School of Occupational Therapy and Chilean Fund for Health Research (FONIS).
  • 2013: Research Assistant: “Evaluation of the Quality of Services and the Respect of Human Rights in the Chilean Mental Health Services using the WHO’s QualityRights tool”. School of Public Health “Dr. Salvador Allende G”, Universidad de Chile and Chilean Fund for Health Research.
  • 2012: Research Assistant: “Community mobilization in a global AIDS environment: A case study of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance”, Health, Community and Development Research Unit, London School of Economics.
  • 2009 – 2012: Research and Development Coordinator at Fundación Rostros Nuevos (Chilean NGO working for the social inclusion of people with mental disabilities from the most disadvantaged communities across the country, with many services from shelter, housing, rehabilitation, counseling, education and work).

Scholarships and awards

  • 2014: Awarded with Becas Chile Scholarship for PhD study.
  • 2014: Awarded with LSE PhD Scholarship.
  • 2012: Himmelweit award for best MSc academic performance 2011-2012, Department of Social Psychology, LSE.
  • 2011: Awarded with Becas Chile Scholarship fo Master’s study.
  • 2009:  Graduated with Highest Distinction, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, Chile.

Teaching experience

  • 2013: “Psychopathology and Culture”. Master in Occupational Therapy, School of Occupational Therapy, Universidad Andres Bello, Chile.
  • 2013: “Assessing Needs and Resources in Local Communities”. Specialization in Community Psychology, School of Psychology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
  • 2013: “Strategies for Community Intervention”. Master in Community Psychology, School of Psychology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
  • 2013: “Social Communication for Health Promotion”. Master in Public Health, School of Public Health “Dr. Salvador Allende G.”, Universidad de Chile.