Caste has systematically pushed Dalit people into marginalisation in South Asia. This systematic caste-based marginalisation has detrimental effects on both the physical and social environment of Dalits, thereby exerting an influence on their mental health and overall well-being. Anthropological research has shown that systematic marginalisation has profound effects on the physical and mental well-being of individuals within those marginalised communities (Gravlee 2009; Howard & Millard 2012; Leatherman & Goodman 1997; Scheper-Hughes 2023). Curiously, there has been a notable lack of emphasis among anthropologists in South Asia, particularly in Nepal, on delving into the biological connections between the caste system and mental well-being within the Dalit community.

This paper aims to investigate the far-reaching consequences of systematic caste-based marginalisation on the mental health of the Dalit population in Nepal. It particularly examines the impact of three factors: nutritional stress, environmental challenges, and social stress on the mental illness of this community. Here, nutritional stress signifies insufficient access to food resources, stemming from constraints such as limited land availability, religious beliefs, and legal provisions. Environmental challenges encompass areas susceptible to both natural and human-made disasters, humanitarian crises, public health emergencies, toxic chemicals, pollution, and unsafe water. Finally, social stress pertains to the daily experience of caste-based discrimination. By mapping these intricate connections, the present study provides a deeper understanding of the multifaceted forces that shape the psychological experiences of Dalits.

This research uses secondary sources and employs the theoretical framework of embodiment to investigate the impact of structural caste-based marginalisation on the mental health of Dalits. This framework emphasises biocultural approach to examine the “subjective experience of the body” (Campbell & Garcia 2009) highlighting that this experience is socially and culturally influenced (Csordas 1997). By utilising the concept of embodiment, this study elucidates the complex interrelation of biological, environmental, and cultural dynamics that influence the mental well-being of Dalits. I believe the findings can shed light on the intricate dynamics involved in understanding the mental health illness faced by marginalised communities subjected to various forms of discrimination and injustice.