Involving communities in global mental health research and services

A London Met lecturer was invited to present her research at Oxford University among global academics.

Date: 11 October 2016

Dr Rochelle Burgess, BSc Health and Community Development course leader and BSc Health and Social Care lecturer, was invited to attend a two-day conference at the renowned Ethox Centre, a multidisciplinary bioethics research centre which aims to improve ethical standards in healthcare practice and in medical research.

The conference was held on 21-22 September and featured a series of papers from global academics. The theme was to explore the political and social dimensions of community engagement activities in global health research by analysing the everyday politics and practices of engagement.

Rochelle presented her model; ‘Community Mental Health Competencies,’ which is published in Transcultural Psychiatry, a peer reviewed international journal that publishes original research and review articles on cultural psychiatry and mental health. Her research will also appear in Palgrave Handbook for Global Mental Health, which is due to be published in early 2017.

“In the UK, community engagement is an increasingly popular trend, with the Department of Public Health releasing a report last year on community engagement and its contribution to the management of public health and resource challenges,” said Dr Burgess.

“However, there are ongoing debates about what the best ways to engage with communities are; in particular debates on how much power and voice local communities should have in shaping their own lives, which was the focus of my presentation at Oxford.

“My research projects have contributed to the development of a theoretical framework which provides a template for engagement with communities that overcome asymmetries of power and access in mental health services.

“The meeting at Oxford featured presentations from 30 global specialists in community health theory and practice, spanning high and low income country settings. I was the only presentation to focus on community involvement in mental health.”

Dr Burgess will also be involved in a new research project in Columbia where she will be working to develop and deliver models for post-conflict mental health recovery services in communities.