Keele Professor contributes to Pakistan’s first mental health strategy

A Keele University academic is part of a team of researchers who are set to advise the Pakistani government on the creation of the country’s first ever mental health strategy.

Suicide is ranked as one of the leading causes of death worldwide, yet Pakistan currently has no official data of self-harm and suicide rates as they are both regarded as illegal acts due to social and religious reasons.

Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham, from Keele’s School of Primary, Community and Social Care, is part of a team of researchers, including academics from The Universities of Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow, King’s College London, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning, who are carrying out a trial of a new psychosocial intervention (called C-MAP) delivered to people following an episode of self-harm. The study is funded by the Medical Research Council and is led by Professor Nusrat Husain, at the University of Manchester.

Professor Chew-Graham is exploring how the intervention will be accepted by patient participants and therapists. Her research also involves speaking with clinicians in Pakistan to explore how they view self-harm, and how people who self-harm should be managed.

The interim findings of the study were presented at the first ever All Parliamentary Pakistan Mental Health Summit held on 12th March 2020. At the event, global leaders and policy makers, mental health professionals, researchers and members of the civil society convened to initiate the development of the National Mental Health Strategy for the next decade which will be aligned to the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 All Parliamentary Pakistan Mental Health Summit

In 2015, Pakistan made a commitment to recognise the SDGs, a plan for sustainable human development, by 2030. The new strategy aims to help Pakistan achieve the third SDG of Universal Health Coverage with regards to mental health. 

Professor Chew-Graham said: “Our nested qualitative study has demonstrated the stigma that people with self-harm behaviour, and their families feel, but that they are willing to access help. Our C-MAP intervention seems to be acceptable to people, and could be rapidly implemented into routine care.”

Professor Nasim Chaudhry, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning, said: “We are embarking on our journey to improve the emotional, psychological and social wellbeing of individuals which in turn will result in healthier communities and a healthier nation.”