The CPMH provides a physical location and organisational infrastructure for current and future innovative research in public mental health, mental health policy, services and legislation, in collaboration with a range of national and international partners. We are committed to increasing the evidence base from LMICs, and building capacity, through high quality research.
Our research agenda seeks to build on questions generated from past research, including the groundbreaking Mental Health and Poverty Project, led by a team of researchers at the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, UCT. Included in our research agenda are questions such as:
The CPMH draws on the research expertise of the collaborating departments and their well established local, continental and international research collaborations. Read More about the research backgrounds of the collaborating departments here.
At Stellenbosch University, early research has focussed on foundational conceptual issues in mental health, with particular emphasis on cultural issues, linguistic diversity, and political factors as they affect mental health in Africa. Studies have explored the appropriateness or otherwise of western diagnostic categories in local populations, and the extent to which social and political factors may influence mental health outcomes. Alongside this has been an interest in the application of mental heath knowledge and skills in non-traditional populations and settings, with explorations of the role of community-based approaches in service provision and development projects. Mental health questions have been conceptualised more broadly within studies interrogating the role of socioeconomic factors and social exclusion on mental health, taking into account gender, race and other divisions of power. A particularly salient issue in the African context is the impact of trauma and violence on mental health, and this has been extensively explored both conceptually and empirically. Comorbidity with physical illness (notably, HIV/AIDS) has also been explored, and mental health issues have been placed in the broader rubric of health psychology. We have studied issues of social exclusion and human rights as they affect disabled people in general, and mental health issues are intimately involved with disability issues. In Africain particular, many conditions, including epilepsy and some sensory impairments are considered under the mental health rubric, and as part of the province of mental health work. The Department has a record of engaging critically with the epistemological assumptions underlying mental health research and practice and a commitment to considering meta-theoretical issues in applied work.
Since 1997 our studies at UCT have explored the extent of current mental health service provision in South Africa, and developed methodologies for assessing needs for mental health care at a population level. These were translated into a set of norms and standards for mental health services in South Africa, which were adopted by the national government. However, it became clear in the subsequent years that these data and tools were not being translated into policy and implemented systematically, and so a new set of questions has arisen regarding the process of mental health policy development and implementation: how are research data translated into policy, plans, legislation and budgets, and in turn, how are these implemented at the service and population level (the concerns of our current research)? These questions have also lead naturally in our current research to an exploration of the social and economic determinants that underpin mental health at a population level. These latter questions are crucial for identifying the risks and protective factors that inform the mental health of populations, their uptake of mental health services, and in turn the formulation and implementation of mental health policy.
Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University
Tel: +27 (0) 21 808 3461
Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, UCT
Tel.: +27 (0) 21 685 0120
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Monthly Seminar Programme - Invitations and Presentations
CPMH General Info Brochure
Master of Philosphy in Mental Health Brochure
Post Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Brochure
MHaPP Planning Tools