C2D2 funding enables international research

Posted on 2 May 2013

A successful bid to the C2D2 international funding scheme enables the first international research project for the CMHSR

Connecting People Intervention International Feasibility Study

A new research project led by the Department of Social Policy and Social Work has recently been given a boost after receiving funding from the Wellcome Trust and the University of York via the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2).

Professor Martin Webber, Anniversary Reader in Social Work, and Meredith Newlin, Research Fellow, submitted a successful bid to explore the feasibility of adapting the Connecting People Intervention model for use in Sierra Leone.

The C2D2 grant will fund Ms Newlin, in collaboration with Dr Susie Whitwell from King’s Centre for Global Health, to visit Sierra Leone in July 2013 to explore how social interventions can help to meet the needs of people with mental health problems. The study will use ethnographic methods to evaluate the feasibility of adapting the Connecting People Intervention model and developing a sustainable training programme.

Early discussions with the Government of Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, service providers, NGOs, and the Mental Health Coalition, indicate the need to strengthen skill training in Sierra Leone to support existing services with evidence-based solutions. Findings from the study will be used as the basis for the research team to co-produce interventions with collaborators in Sierra Leone, which will ensure that Western approaches are not imposed where they may be inappropriate. 

“There is increasing evidence to suggest that the application of knowledge in developing countries is failing”, said Ms Newlin. “A gap exists between what is known from research and what is done to apply it. To address this gap we aim to evaluate the knowledge transfer of psychosocial interventions for adults with mental disorders in low and middle income countries using a systematic review and preliminary data from this feasibility study in Sierra Leone.”

Dr Martin Webber, Director of the Centre for Mental Health Social Research (CMHSR) at the University of York, said “We welcome the support of C2D2 with our work. Social interventions can help to fill the ‘treatment gap’ for people with mental health problems in low and middle income countries. They receive a low priority from funding bodies, but have the potential to improve the quality of life, social participation and well-being of people experiencing mental distress.”

The project is an international collaboration involving Dr Elizabeth Hughes (Mental Health and Addictions Research Group, University of York), Dr Oliver Johnson (King’s College London), Professor David Morris (University of Central Lancashire), Dr Carmen Valle (University of Makeni, Sierra Leone) and Dr Lynette Joubert (University of Melbourne, Australia).

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