International Symposium - Kent and Medway Medical School

International Symposium

International symposium on community engagement in global mental health in South Asia.

The KMMS Co-Directors of Research Professor Lisa Dikomitis and Professor Sukhi Shergill welcomed researchers from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the first KMMS International Symposium, entitled ‘Engaging local communities around perceptions and understandings of mental health interventions in South Asia’.



This symposium was organised in the context of a University of Kent GNCA/ODA project led by Professor Dikomitis. The project had the following three overarching objectives:

(1)To improve patient outcomes through the evaluation of mental health interventions and community engagement and involvement approach in research in South Asia and the UK.

(2)To foster cross cultural learning through establishing  a new global mental health consortium bringing researchers from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the UK together.

(3)To build applied global mental health research capacity in South Asia.



Mental health researchers and psychiatrists from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the UK came together to discuss global mental health research. KMMS welcomed speakers from Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Khyber Medical University, University of Peshawar, Banaras Hindu University, Punjabi University Patiala, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research Chandigarh, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keele University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.



The symposium included several panels on community engagement, intervention development, integrated care and pluralistic health systems, all with a focus on mental health care in South Asia.



The session on arts and mental health, with screening of ECLIPSE community-led films and SOLACE videos, was introduced by a surprise appearance of Punjabi musician, and CCCU student, Amarjot Singh. You can watch the video of his performance on YouTube.

The symposium included a Kaleidoscope Live session from the team who writes the Kaleidoscope column in The British Journal of Psychiatry (BJPsych).

A brainstorming workshop around developing capacity in mental health research in South Asia concluded the symposium.


At KMMS, our research is strongly underpinned by community engagement and involvement, and developed through multidirectional learning from work in in the UK, the Global North and the Global South. Through collaborative research with colleagues from the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University, UK academic and healthcare partners, international research centres, business and industry, health policy makers and other external partners KMMS aims to become a hub for high-quality research, knowledge exchange, and capacity building in health, medical and clinical research.

The symposium was funded by a GNCA/ODA grant awarded to Professor Lisa Dikomitis and by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) through the ECLIPSE programme.