Gift establishes nine new scholarships for global mental health

6 March 2013

A new scholarship fund to support the training of future leaders in the field of mental health has been announced at the School.

Nine scholarships will be awarded through the Janssen Pharmaceutica Scholarship Fund, starting in the 2013-14 academic year. The fund was established through a gift of £295,335 to the Centre for Global Mental Health.

The scholarships will support MSc candidates in Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry. The gift was made by Janssen Pharmaceutica, NV, a Johnson & Johnson company.

“Lack of mental health care is one of the most neglected problems worldwide,” Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said. “Hundreds of millions of people around the world with mental, neurological or substance-use disorders do not receive even the most basic care, even though effective and low-cost treatments exist.

“One of the aims of the MSc in Global Mental Health is to train mental-health leaders to improve access to care in countries around the world. It is the first degree of its kind in the world, and it is being led by the true pioneers in global mental health here at the School and at the Institute of Psychiatry.”

Mental health disorders account for nearly 10% of the global burden of disease. Most of the people affected live in low and middle income countries where they do not have even their basic health care needs met. The programme will award up to three full scholarships a year to MSc candidates in Global Mental Health, with a preference for students from or working in low and middle income countries.

Students will receive training in epidemiological and health services research methods to equip them to monitor and evaluate mental health programmes. They will also learn to devise locally appropriate and feasible strategies to reduce burden of mental health disorders at every level, from national health policy and systems to individual clinical interventions.

 “The MSc in Global Mental Health is a major step in the development of a field that has been, for the most part, neglected by academic public health institutions,” said Dr Alex Cohen, the School’s director of the course. “We are grateful for these scholarships, which will provide support to individuals who wish to devote themselves to improving the lives of people who live with mental illness.”

The scholarship fund was launched at a ceremony at the School on Monday attended by senior academics at the Centre for Global Mental Health and both parent institutions, as well as by a current MSc student on the course.

Nine representatives from Janssen attended the launch, including Jane Griffiths, Company Group Chair of Janssen for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Dr Husseini Manji, Global Therapeutic Area Head for Neuroscience at Janssen Research & Development.

“Mental disorders cost more than cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases combined,” Dr Manji said at the event. “We need to do something about treatment. We need to do something about stigma. We need to train the health workers of the future.”

Janssen made the gift as part of its global ‘Healthy Minds’ programme to encourage collaboration among biotechnology, pharmaceutical and public-sector organisations to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic solutions for neurologic and brain diseases.

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