New study underway to improve mental health treatment in Pakistan

Keele University’s Professor Saeed Farooq is leading a new study which aims to improve the identification and treatment of psychosis in young people in Pakistan. 

Professor Farooq, from Keele’s School of Primary, Community and Social Care, has been awarded £786,653 by the Medical Research Council to carry out research in Pakistan which will aim to develop a culturally appropriate and targeted intervention for the early identification, referral and management of a young person first experiencing psychotic symptoms.

The average duration of untreated psychosis in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) is more than two years. This can result in severe consequences for physical and mental health in young people with almost all patients and their families seeking treatment from traditional healers before turning to psychiatric services.

The research will help to prevent long-term consequences of untreated psychosis by training traditional and spiritual healers in early detection and treatment of psychosis, and working collaboratively with primary care practitioners in a typical LMIC setting in Pakistan. 

The study will be the first to develop and test a model of working with traditional healers using a rigorous randomised controlled design.

Professor Farooq said: “I am absolutely delighted at this funding success. This shows that Keele is a global leader in health research that can make a difference in the lives of young people worldwide.  

“In order to provide timely and effective interventions, it is incredibly important to increase collaboration between traditional healers and primary care providers as they are typically the first port of call for the families of young people suffering from psychosis. We hope that this study will help to increase awareness in the community about early signs of psychosis so that young people can seek the help they need sooner.”