Dr Mary DeSilva (nee Payne) BA MSc PhD

Senior Lecturer in Global Mental Health

About Mary DeSilva

Epidemiologist working in global mental health research with the ultimate goal of reducing the treatment gap for mental disorders in low resource settings, while protecting human rights.


I read Biological Anthropology at Cambridge (BA, 1999), and went on to complete an MSc Epidemiology and PhD in Epidemiology at LSHTM. My PhD explored the association between social capital and maternal common mental disorders in low and middle income countries (LMIC). After my PhD I was awarded an MRC/ESRC Interdisciplinary Post-Doctoral Fellowship to continue global mental health research, mentored by Vikram Patel. I now hold an LSHTM fellowship funded through the Institutional Strategic Support Fund awarded to LSHTM by the Wellcome Trust.




Along with colleagues Alex Cohen and Vikram Patel, I am involved in the development of an exciting new MSc in Global Mental Health (joint with the Institute of Psychiatry), to be launched in Sept 2012.

I am a course organiser for the Global Mental Health Module, and currently also teach on the Basic Epidemiology and Design and Analysis of Epidemiological Studies study modules. I tutor on the MSc Epidemiology MSc and supervise PhD students in the field of global mental health. I am also deputy departmental research degrees co-ordinator for NPHIR.


I am Deputy Director of the Centre for Global Mental Health, a research partnership between LSHTM and Kings Health Partners, and am Head of the Global Mental Health Group in the Department of Population Health.  I a member of the Advisory Board for the Global Movement for Mental Health, which was launched after the 2007 Lancet Series on Global Mental Health. The Movement seeks to use advocacy to scale up evidence based treatments for mental illnesses, particularly in low and middle income countries.

I am currently predominantly working on two research projects.

The first is a DfID funded 6 year project entitled PRIME (PRogramme for Improving Mental health carE). The goal of PRIME is to generate world-class research evidence on the implementation and scaling up of treatment programmes for priority mental disorders in primary and maternal health care contexts in low resource settings. PRIME is a consortium of research institutions and Ministries of Health in five countries in Asia and Africa (Ethiopia, India, Nepal, South Africa & Uganda), with partners comprising the LSHTM, Institute of Psychiatry, Basic Needs and the WHO.

The second project is an NIMH funded 5 year project called SHARE (the South Asian Hub for Advocacy, Research and Education on mental health), a collaborative network of institutions in South Asia, which will carry out and utilize research that answers policy relevant questions related to reducing the treatment gap for mental disorders in the region. As part of this we will be conducting 2 RCTs (in India and Pakistan), evaluating the effectiveness of peer-counsellors for maternal depression.

I have recently worked on a number of other Global Mental Health projects including: designing a routine monitoring and evaluation system to assess the effectiveness of an NGO-run mental health treatment program in Nigeria; analysis of data from the MANAS trial of a stepped care intervention for the treatment of common mental disorders in primary care in India; and systematic reviews of the effect of interventions to improve the lives of people with mental disorders in low and middle income countries on their economic status and social functioning.

A consistent theme throughout my work is the association between mental and physical health, with the premise that 'there is no health without mental health'. Projects include the impact of treating mental health problems in people who have chronic disease; the association between maternal mental health and child physical health and development in LMIC, and the relationship between mental illness and disability.

Research areas

  • Child health
  • Clinical trials
  • Maternal health
  • Systematic reviews


  • Epidemiology
  • Psychology

Disease and Health Conditions

  • Disability
  • Mental health


  • South Asia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)


  • Ethiopia
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • South Africa
  • Uganda

Other interests

  • Cluster Randomised Trials
  • Cochrane Reviews
  • Community Based Health Agents
  • Contextual Factors
  • Developing countries
  • Epidemiological Methods
  • Maternal And Child Health
  • Monitoring And Evaluation
  • NCDs-Intervention Research
  • Neglected Diseases
  • epidemiology
  • global health
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