Media Stories

VACANCY: Research Officer



(3 year contract)




The Centre for Public Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health has been awarded a  research grant: HeAlth System StrEngThening in Sub-Saharan Africa (ASSET). ASSET is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded study working in four countries: Ethiopia, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe; and across three healthcare platforms: integrated primary health care; maternal care and surgical care.

The lead institution is King’s College London with UCT as a sub-contracted partner. The UCT team will be led by Prof Crick Lund, and will focus on maternal care in the Western Cape. This will include scaling up routine screening for common mental disorders and violence against women during the antenatal period, with referral to appropriate counselling and statutory services in all midwife-obstetric units (MOUs) in the Cape Town metropolitan area.

The role of the UCT Research Officer will be to coordinate the research of this health system strengthening intervention in the Western Cape, and will include contributing to the design of the study, overseeing the collection of data (including supervision of fieldwork staff and processes), assistance with the analysis of data and writing up of study findings for publication in peer reviewed scientific journal articles and policy briefs. The position is for 36 months starting in April 2018 and concluding on 31 March 2021.

Requirements include:

  • Masters or PhD in a relevant field (e.g. psychology, public health, social science).
  • At least 3 years of experience working in public health or psychology research in low resource settings.
  • Fluency in English


  • Specific experience or interest in maternal health, maternal mental health, intimate partner violence or mobile and digital health technologies.
  • Proficiency in either isiXhosa or Afrikaans.
  • Proficiency in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

Responsibilities include:

  • Conducting relevant tasks at country level as required by the ASSET programme. This includes, conducting qualitative research and a situational analysis of MOUs in Cape Town, identifying suitable research tools/instruments to assess major outcomes, training and supervising fieldworkers stationed at the MOUs, and supervising the overall data collection system and processes during the course of the diagnostic, piloting and experimental phases of the ASSET study.
  • Preparing all required materials for these tasks
  • Collecting, cleaning and analysing data and preparing reports and journal articles based on these findings.
  • Publishing research findings in peer reviewed journal articles, either as lead author or co-author.
  • Presenting research findings at conferences.
  • Reporting to the UCT ASSET Principal Investigator
  • Monitoring relevant indicators of project progress, as set out in the terms of reference in the contract with King’s College London
  • Preparing reports on indicators of progress with South African maternal care Work package
  • Submitting reports to the UCT ASSET PI for submission to the ASSET Director at KCL.
  • Working with the UCT ASSET PI and administrator to ensure the smooth running of the research tasks, including but not limited to making travel arrangements, maintaining project files, and organizing meetings of the community advisory group.
  • Attending weekly meetings of the UCT ASSET team and working in a collaborative collegial manner with colleagues.
  • Assisting with setting up the community advisory group
  • Keeping all members of the advisory group informed of project progress, new developments and meetings
  • Preparing communications material for knowledge exchange within country and to other ASSET partners.
  • Participating in all relevant early career related capacity building activities within the ASSET project.

The annual remuneration package, including benefits, is negotiable between R478,207 and R639,848.

To apply, please e-mail the below documents in a single pdf file to Ms Vathiswa Mbangi at

Please ensure the title and reference number are indicated in the subject line.

An application which does not comply with the above requirements will be regarded as incomplete.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and may be required to undergo an assessment.

Telephone:                    021 650 3003

Reference number:        E18173

Closing date:               12 April 2018

UCT is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity and redress in achieving its equity targets. Our Employment Equity Policy is available at  For this post we seek particularly to attract black South African (i.e. African, Coloured, Indian) candidates.

UCT reserves the right not to appoint.

FundaMentalSDG Media Stories

UN prioritises mental health in new Development Agenda2030

UCT’s Professor Crick Lund, director of the Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, believes the inclusion of specific mental health targets in the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is a major breakthrough in the global effort to get mental health on the development policy agenda.

This follows the UN’s announcement earlier this month that its member nations had adopted the new Development Agenda2030, which will lead global development policy over the next 15 years, and that mental health will be a development priority.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals will guide efforts across the globe to reduce poverty and increase both physical and mental health by 2030.

“People living in poverty have increased risk for a range of mental health conditions through a number of causal pathways, and conversely people living with mental illness are at risk of drifting into or remaining in poverty,” said Lund.

“Including mental health in international development targets provides an opportunity for countries to implement and monitor efforts at breaking the cycle of poverty and mental illness.”

With this historic decision the UN is addressing the needs of millions of people with mental health problems. Mental Disorders are common and lethal: one in four people in the world experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

In most countries people with mental health problems are not treated, because of due a lack of mental health systems and services. In low income countries up to 80% of people do not receive treatment, and many people are subject to inappropriate treatment, human rights violations and isolation.

In 2012, suicide was the 15th leading cause of death, and 75% of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries. The social and economic costs to nations and society are tremendous.

“We now need to work closely with governments and international development agencies to implement the mental health indicators, which are related to suicide rates and treatment coverage for severe mental illnesses,” said Lund.

The FundaMentalSDG Initiative was led by a steering group made up of 26 leaders in the field of global mental health. Prof Lund is a member of the steering group representing South Africa, through two UCT-led multi-country programmes happening across 8 countries in Africa and Asia: Programme for Improving Mental health care (PRIME) funded by UKAID, and the AFrica Focus on Intervention Research for Mental Health (AFFIRM) funded by the US government’s National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH).

Graham Thornicroft, Professor of Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, and director of the global initiative FundaMentalSDG to promote mental health in the UN Development Agenda 2030 said: “The clear inclusion of mental health as a priority within the Sustainable Development Goals is a major achievement.”

More people will receive mental health treatment

The aims and potential impact of this new mental health development priority will be:

fewer suicides, more people with severe mental illness getting treatment and more national and international investment in mental health services.

The consequences of the new mental health priority in the Development Agenda 2030 are far-reaching: The 2030 Agenda is a global policy defining international development priorities, and will lead countries to set priorities for mental health in their national policies and resource planning. Low- and middle-income countries will increase their efforts to reach the targets in mental health, and higher income countries will support less developed nations with financial, human and knowledge resources.

Indicators to measure and make the Development Agenda work

To make the Sustainable Development Agenda and mental health targets work the UN Member States now need to agree upon strong and robust indicators to ensure measurable, actionable, attainable results.

Thornicroft said: “The most important next step is for the UN to adopt two specific indicators (referring to treatment coverage for people with severe mental illness, and to suicide rates). Tracking these measures for every country worldwide will allow us to quantify progress to universal mental health coverage in the future.”

These indicators are crucial, because they will make progress in mental health measureable and will help to hold countries and their governments liable to their commitments and achievements. Only with strong indicators in the SDGs, mental health will really count in the development Agenda2030.


Nicole Votruba

Co-ordinator FundaMentalSDG

Tel: +44 (0) 207 848 0498

Email: fundamentalsdg[at]

Graham Thornicroft

Director FundaMentalSDG

Email: graham.thornicroft[at]

Health Service and Population Research Department

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN)

King’s College London

David Goldberg Centre Rm: M1.16 PO Box 28

De Crespigny Park | Denmark Hill

London SE5 8AF

United Kingdom



FundaMentalSDG is a global initiative to strengthen mental health in global development and include mental health in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and indicators.

FundaMentalSDG propose 2 indicators (No. 23 & 28) to measure the success of the SDGs and ensure that the Agenda2030 targets on mental health will be met. The indicators are fully aligned with the WHO Global Mental Health Action Plan 2015-2030:

  • Indicator 23: Probability of dying between exact ages 30 and 70 from any of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or suicide
  • Indicator 28: Proportion of persons with a severe mental disorder (psychosis, bipolar affective disorder, or moderate-severe depression) who are using services

FundaMentalSDG has drafted a position paper and supporting documents to advocate at the national statistics department and UN STATs.  More information & documents for download at

2030 Agenda

In the Agenda 2030 declaration the United Nations point out that behavioural, developmental and neurological disorders constitute a major challenge for sustainable development. They make a clear commitment to mental health stating that they want ‘A world with equitable and universal access […] to health care and social protection, where physical, mental and social well-being are assured.’ The UN further declare that in order ‘to promote physical and mental health and well-being, and to extend life expectancy for all, we must achieve universal health coverage and access to quality health care. No one must be left behind.’

In goal 3 of the declaration, the Health Goal, the UN point out the importance of mental health for overall health and global development. They state that by 2030, the aim of all countries is to ‘reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being’ (target 3.4); ‘Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse’ (target 3.5), ‘universal health coverage’ (target 3.8);