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Dawn news puts physical health of mentally ill centre-stage

An important article written by Dr Zafar Mirza was published in Dawn today putting physical health of mentally ill in the spotlight. The article highlights that more often than not, physical illness accompaniments in mentally ill people are ignored.

Read the Dawn article

We know the high mortality rate among people with mental illness is not due to mental illness per se, rather it is the result of the coexistence or co-morbidity of physical health problems, such as cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and infectious diseases and cancer. As the article notes, many Dawn readers might find it surprising to know that people with mental illness don’t live as long than the general population.

The article goes on to reference the important research that continues to be done by our research teams in South Asia, for example where the physical problems of mentally ill patients, including those with severe mental illness is being studied in the wake of Covid-19 by the IMPASS Study.

The work of the Centre continues to improve our understanding of how to protect physical health in people with mental illness. Dr Zafar Mirza’s article recognized essential work from members of the IMPACT team who, as part of the Lancet Psychiatry Commission in 2019, published “a blueprint for protecting physical health in people with mental illness”.

Firth J, Siddiqi N, Koyanagi A, et al. The Lancet Psychiatry Commission: a blueprint for protecting physical health in people with mental illness. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019;6(8):675-712. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30132-4

Dr Zafar Mirza is a former Pakistani politician who served as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Health and is currently serving as a Professor of Health System and Population Health at Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University (STMU) in Islamabad. He has long standing experience of working at national, regional and global levels in public and private health sectors.

Online Workshop: Getting Research into Policy & Practice

The IMPASS team have arranged a half-day online workshop for researchers about “Getting Research into Policy & Practice” led by Dr Zafar Mirza.

Dr Zafar MirzaDr Zafar Mirza is a former Pakistani politician who served as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Health and is currently serving as a Professor of Health System and Population Health at Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University (STMU) in Islamabad. He has long standing experience of working at national, regional and global levels in public and private health sectors.

Dr Zafar Mirza has also served as the Director of Health System Development at the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. He is a medical doctor with post-graduation in Public Health in Developing Countries from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a clinical stint in mental health.

The workshop will take place on Friday 24th March. It has been carefully designed to help researchers to understand how to incorporate research into the policy making. Aiming to support and engage more researchers in producing policy appropriate research and contribute to the health policy making.

The workshop is aimed at researchers from or collaborating with the Centre for IMPACT and/or the IMPASS Study.
Register to attend via eventbrite

If you are not associated with the Centre for IMPACT but you are interested in attending please contact us.

Download workshop flyer


Apply now: PhD Opportunities – Non-Communicable Diseases in South Asia

Khyber Medical University

Applications are open for the Centre’s PhD scholarships in ‘Non-Communicable Diseases in South Asia’

These scholarships are a Centre for IMPACT collaboration between the University of York, UK and Khyber Medical University, Pakistan.

The Department of Health Sciences, University of York, UK and Khyber Medical University (KMU), Pakistan are inviting applications for fully funded PhD scholarships in the field of applied health research in non-communicable diseases (NCD) and mental health in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These are off-site collaborative scholarships, based at either the KMU Peshawar or Islamabad campus. They are available on a full-time basis to start in October 2023 for 3 years. Scholarship holders who successfully complete their PhD will be awarded a PhD from the University of York.

Successful candidates will be enrolled in the Department of Health Sciences’ PhD programme at the University of York, UK. They will be geographically based at the Institute of Public Health and Social Sciences (IPH&SS) (Peshawar or Islamabad campus) KMU, Pakistan, for the majority of the PhD enrolment period. Students will have full access to the usual postgraduate training facilities, including library and IT services at York and KMU.
They will also have the opportunity to visit York on short-term placements.

Group of researchers in a meeting

Students will benefit from being based in a lively and supportive research and learning environment supervised by senior academics from the Centre for IMPACT and collaborators. Depending on their area of interest, they will have the opportunity to gain experience in applied health research, including, for example: multimorbidity research, evidence synthesis, qualitative research, participatory learning approaches, policy evaluation, economic modelling, community and public involvement, randomised controlled trials and implementation science.

Please share this #C4IMPACTPhD2023 opportunity with your networks and collaborators.

The application deadline is Friday 5th May 2023, but please remember applications are likely to take at least several weeks to prepare – so start early.

Download more detailed applicant information


Behavioural activation training success

Female research delivering a training session

A busy start to 2023 for DiaDeM PhD student Karen Coales.

In January and February, Karen led the delivery of two interactive behavioural activation (BA) training sessions in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The training was for BA facilitators participating in the main DiaDeM trial. Supervisors also completed a one day training course covering case management and clinical skills supervision. Karen joined the DiaDeM team as a full time PhD student in November 2020, before embarking on her PhD, Karen worked for the NHS for 20 years and has a clinical background in occupational therapy and psychological wellbeing.

Rawalpindi Medical University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan: 16th – 19th January 2023

In Pakistan, Karen was joined by Pieta Goddard. Pieta is a senior psychological wellbeing practitioner who works with the DiaDeM Programme and is currently a qualified low intensity psychological therapies supervisor for Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust.  The training course brought together BA facilitators and supervisors from sites in Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Karachi for the first time and provided a great opportunity for BA facilitators, supervisors and members of the research teams in each country to do some team building and to get to know one another in preparation for the start of the main trial. Pieta and Karen were greeted by fantastic publicity for the training in Rawalpindi – they even made the front page of the local newspaper, the Rawalpindi Daily Jang!

Female researchers stand next to a promotional bannerPicture above: Karen and Pieta in Rawalpindi

BIRDEM Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh: 6th – 9th February 2023

In Bangladesh, Karen was joined by Professor Dave Ekers from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust one of DiaDeM’s UK NHS partner organizations. The session in Dhaka also included particpants from the Syhlet trial site.  Like the January session in Pakistan, there was lots of interaction during the course with learners enthusiastically taking part and supporting one another in lots of group-work activities, role plays and question and answer sessions. The sessions have been skillfully desinged by the DiaDeM team to help ensure everyone has time to practically develop and practice their BA intervention and supervisory skills.

People in a classroom taking trainingPicture above: Attendees at the training session in Dhaka.

Local hospitality

The collaborative and supportive ethos of the DiaDeM Programme meant the visitors were well looked after by team members.

Group of female researchersPicture above: Karen and Pieta with the DiaDeM research team based in Pakistan.

Chai is poured from large tea pot in bangladesh

“As visitors from the UK we were very warmly welcomed and looked after during our trips, returning home with lasting memories of the kindness and hospitality of our hosts and course participants. We were welcomed into family homes for dinner and as well as trying some delicious street food and chai – poured from the biggest teapot I’ve ever seen!”      Quote: Karen Coales

Picture right: A well earned chai is prepared in Bangladesh

Behavioural Activation Learning Resources

The DiaDeM team’s Behavioural Activation Learning Resources are available on the website.  As well as being used to support the role out of the main trial, these learning resources are for anyone interested in helping others with brief psychological interventions. Members of the public, educators, mental health and social care professionals, and community workers will find them beneficial.

Access our BA Learning Resources

DiaDeM: Community Engagement and Involvement

Preparation, ice-breakers, group activities, communication skills and more.

The DiaDeM Research Programme team at the Ark Foundation in Bangladesh have put together this excellent video demonstrating how to conduct a successful community engagement and involvement workshop. The video shows some great ideas for group activities and how to structure a productive two day workshop with members of the community. The reminder to include pre-training and post-training evaluation questionnaires is good tip.

The video is a very helpful resource that will guide the Centre for IMPACT’s community involvement work.

The team are grateful to all the participants from the workshop who consented to the filming and production of this educational video.