One of the strategic research priorities at KMMS is mental health research. KMMS researchers are undertaking original, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary mental health research in the following areas: neuroscience and cognition, global mental health, health inequalities and migrant mental health. Our research group has strong links with the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care partnership Trust (KMPT), where KMMS Professor of Psychiatry, Sukhi Shergill, is Director of Research. Our work aims to improve the lives and experiences of those with mental health problems, closely collaborating with those providing mental health care and individuals receiving care.
Professor Sukhi Shergill founded and leads the CSI Lab, a virtual home for researchers and clinicians from around the world. The CSI Lab researchers primarily use neuroimaging techniques to explore functions and structures of the brain. The lab’s aim is to use the results of this research to help develop new and effective treatments and to improve services, and the organisations that deliver them. The CSI Lab initially concentrated on investigating the brain mechanisms involved in the symptoms of schizophrenia – both the ‘positive symptoms’ (unusual experiences such as hallucinations and paranoia) that are characteristic of episodes of psychosis and the ongoing cognitive and ‘negative symptoms’ that affect memory and attention, making it difficult for people to interact socially and sustain relationships. The CSI Lab researchers are now applying the expertise and knowledge gained to research disordered cognitive processes in other psychiatric illnesses, and are interested in understanding the cognitive processes and neural networks involved in all mental health problems.
Global mental health
Professor Lisa Dikomitis co-leads ECLIPSE, a major NIHR-funded programme on cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), working with multidisciplinary teams in Brazil, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka. CL is a highly stigmatising skin condition that leads to discrimination, social and poverty which, in turn, may lead to additional health problems. Professor Dikomitis also led the AHRC-MRC funded SOLACE, interdisciplinary research in the Philippines around public (mental) health in rural, remote, underserved areas of the country. She also leads the qualitative and ethnographic work in MRC-funded studies on schizophrenia in Pakistan, these are led by Professor Saeed Farooq at Keele University. This includes STOPS+, a trial on community-based schizophrenia treatment, and THEHOPE, working with traditional healers and primary care professionals around early intervention in psychosis in adolescents. More information on KMMS global health research is available on the global health page.
Culture and mental health
Migration is a vulnerable factor to develop mental health problems. There is a high prevalence of mental health conditions among migrants. Indeed, individuals who have recently migrated as well as members of established migrant communities in the UK are often at increased risk of ill mental health. This presents specific challenges for mental healthcare, around communication, effects of socio-cultural health beliefs and impact of and on family and community structures. KMMS professors Dikomitis and Shergill are currently conducting research with migrant communities in Kent.
Cognitive bias modification for paranoia (CBM-pa): a randomised controlled feasibility study in patients with distressing paranoid beliefs
The importance of pro-social processing, and ameliorating dysfunction in schizophrenia. An FMRI study of oxytocin
Social isolation and psychosis: an investigation of social interactions and paranoia in daily life
A Novel Virtual Reality Assessment of Functional Cognition: Validation Study
Cognitive performance in early, treatment-resistant psychosis patients: could cognitive control play a role in persistent symptoms?Culture, migration, Brexit, and COVID-19: managing the mental health of patients from Central and Eastern Europe
Burnout among primary health-care professionals in low- and middle-income countries: systematic review and meta-analysis
The experiences and needs of supporting individuals of young people who self-harm: A systematic review and thematic synthesis
Experiences of general practice care for self-harm: a qualitative study of young people’s perspectives
Supervised treatment in outpatients for schizophrenia plus (STOPS+): protocol for a cluster randomised trial of a community-based intervention to improve treatment adherence and reduce the treatment gap for schizophrenia in Pakistan