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Pakistan Stands at the Forefront of Global Mental Health Training and Research


DUBAI: The 7th Global Mental Health Research Capacity Building Programme was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates between February 18th-25th 2023. The initiative was organized jointly by the Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL), Global Mental Health and Cultural Psychiatry Research Group, University of Manchester (UoM) and, in collaboration with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Global Foundation (MGF), Centre in Africa Living and Learning (CALL) and the University of Toronto (UofT).

PILL has been organizing a yearly research capacity and capability-building program since 2015 in the UAE. It is organized twice a year and brings together mental health academics, clinicians and students from South Asia, the UK, North America, Australia, Africa, the Middle-East and other countries, offering training on psychosocial interventions, various outcome measures, grant writing and evidence synthesis to support the development of early career researchers and other health professionals. CEO PILL, Prof Nasim Chaudhry welcomed the attendees in her opening speech with a background of the training program and an overview of the week-long agenda. She thanked colleagues who joined us from North America, the UK and Pakistan, and recognised the unique platform which aims to advance mental health research and services in low-and middle-income countries. The agenda included a range of workshops in areas of forensic mental health, unintentional injuries particularly burns, mood disorders, psychosis spectrum disorders, grant writing, and art therapy.

The first 4 days centred on research in forensic mental health and community forensic service development in LAMICs, mental health legislation in Pakistan and effective psychosocial interventions including importance of a culturally relevant framework to support prisoner rehabilitation in Pakistan jointly led by Prof Jennifer Shaw, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at the University of Manchester, Dr Inti Qureshi, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist/Hon Senior Lecturer at Mersey Care NHS Trust, Prof Altaf Qadir Khan, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Prof Zainab Zadeh, Head of the Child and Adolescent Division at PILL, Prof Imran Bashir Chaudhry, Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry at Ziauddin Hospital, Honorary Professor of Adult Psychiatry, University of Manchester, and Prof Nusrat Husain, Professor of Psychiatry and Director Research Global Mental Health at the University of Manchester, Director Research, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Prof Benoit Mulsant, Chair Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and Dr George Foussias, Chief, Schizophrenia Division at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Dr M. Ishrat Husain, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto and Clinician Scientist at CAMH and Dr M. Omair Husain, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto and Clinician Scientist at CAMH, jointly led two days on a grant writing retreat and preparing funding applications. Dr M. Ishrat Husain was congratulated by the group for being awarded the Canada Research Chair in Treatment Innovation in Mood Disorders. During the session, the PILL team, including Muqaddas Asif, Research Associate and Zahra Nigah presented the CaPE trial – culturally adapted psychoeducation intervention for bipolar disorder – and measurement-based care for major depressive disorder, respectively. Mr. Ameer B Khoso presented the completed and ongoing projects of PILL in the At Risk Mental State (ARMS) and Psychosis Disorders division.

The programme ended with a two-day interactive training on Arts Therapy (Arts for the Blues) led by Prof Vicky Karkou, Professor of Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University. She explained the Arts for Blues model in detail to encourage creative expression with experiential and movement-based group activities. The training programme concluded on February 25th with positive reflections and feedback from attendees.

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