Studying Global Mental Health at LSHTM and KCL

Muftau, from Nigeria, is studying the MSc Global Mental Health with LSHTM and King’s College London. He hopes to address the vast inequities in mental healthcare access for populations in low- and middle-income countries.
Muftau Mohammed

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background  

I studied Medicine (MBBS) at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria and completed a postgraduate clinical fellowship in Psychiatry from the West African College of Physicians (FWACP-Psych). I also hold an MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

During my clinical psychiatry practice in the last few years, I recognised the considerable care gap for Mental, Neurological and Substance Use (MNS) Disorders globally. This knowledge motivated me to venture into public mental health research and develop, implement, and evaluate culturally appropriate interventions to reduce these inequities in care access in diverse contexts.

Since 2020, I have engaged in international collaborative research projects on the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with publications in reputable journals, including The Lancet Psychiatry. My recent effort involved undertaking the first epidemiological study on adolescent suicidal behaviour in Northern Nigeria- The Kaduna Adolescent Suicidality (KASS) Study. I also tested the effectiveness of a training programme for primary school teachers to identify and support children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder within the school system in Nigeria. I have received several professional and academic awards for my work, including the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Fellowship Award (2021) and the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology (JSPN) Fellowship Award (2021).

Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM?  

The vast inequities in mental healthcare access for populations, especially in low- and middle-income countries, means that culturally appropriate and evidence-based public mental health interventions are required. The recognition of this gap motivated me to study for an MSc in Global Mental Health at LSHTM, which delivers this course jointly with King's College London. The outstanding reputation of LSHTM in public health meant that I would learn from researchers at the cutting edge of knowledge. This makes LSHTM a perfect study destination for students to learn solid academic skills and establish long-term academic/professional relationships with staff and students from diverse backgrounds worldwide. 

How will the programme help your career in the future? 

The knowledge and skills acquired during this course will provide me with a solid background to generate evidence from high-quality and competitive research. This step is crucial for advocacy to inform public health policy action to reduce the huge treatment gap for mental and substance use disorders globally. Furthermore, the connections I am making with world-leading experts in the field and my colleagues on the course will support my career journey after graduation from the School.  

What have you enjoyed most about your course? 

Learning from colleagues from diverse backgrounds, from social science to arts, psychology, and psychiatry, is fascinating. This unique feature of the cohort makes the discussions particularly rich and exciting. Although I like all my modules, I especially enjoyed "Design and Evaluation of Mental Health Programmes" and "Mental Health Economic Evaluation", which equipped me with the skills to develop and evaluate effective, evidence-based, and scalable mental health interventions.

'The knowledge and skills acquired during this course will provide me with a solid background to generate evidence from high-quality and competitive research.'

What does it mean to you to have won the Chevening Scholarship and how did you find the application process? 

The Chevening Scholarship is highly prestigious and certainly very competitive! I am one of 1600 scholars from over 63,000 applicants from 140 countries worldwide. I am highly grateful to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for this amazing opportunity. Winning the Chevening scholarship offered me the opportunity to acquire a world-class education in the UK and to be part of an influential global network of change-makers in diverse fields.  

The application process is straightforward and completed online. Candidates will need to write a personal statement and submit academic certificates, transcripts, and references to support the application. Applicants are then shortlisted and invited for interviews before the final selection is made. I would recommend the Chevening scholarship to anyone looking to solve local and global challenges by acquiring a world-class education in the UK. 

What have been the best aspects of your experience in London?

Apart from my role as Student Ambassador at LSHTM and King's College London, I was elected as the School Education Student Rep for the School of Mental Health and Psychological Sciences (MHaPS) during the King's College London Students' Union Elections. These roles have allowed me to work and network with diverse groups, from other Student Ambassadors working to help prospective students during their application process to top Faculty Stakeholders during Faculty Education Committee (FEC) Meetings. Furthermore, living in London's vibrant and diverse city with excellent transport systems and many tourist attractions is incredibly appealing.

How did you find the mix of online and in-person teaching?  

The mixture of online and in-person teaching has been fantastic, both formats providing unique flavours to my total experience. The in-person element offers opportunities for face-to-face interactions with tutors and colleagues during practicals and seminars; the online sessions provide a handy resource whenever I need to revise content. 

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course? 

I advise prospective students to make the most of every moment during their studies at this world-class university. Learn from your tutors and colleagues, network, and establish long-term collaborations and friendships. These are critical foundations for achieving your goals.