My vision is to strengthen the function of public health services especially in relation to mental health through promoting the development of evidence-based practices. Instrumental to this goal is the need to highlight through good quality science the intrinsic role of good mental health in public health. I envisage that my role would be to promote this vision through capacity building and partnerships developed through my network to encourage participation in the activities and programmes of PHASA.
I am a chief specialist scientist in the Health Systems Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council having joined them in 2016. I also hold an Honorary Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I am a registered clinical psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa since 1982 and rated as a “B” scientist in the NRF system. I obtained an MA degree in psychology from the University of Durban-Westville (now University of KwaZulu-Natal) and a PhD in Clinical and Community Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in the United States. I am also a lead investigator in the recently formed Centre of Excellence in Human Development funded by the NRF. I also lead a group of investigators in adolescent well-being funded by the NRF CoE. I am the current convener of the specialist panel on psychology in the NRF.
I began my academic career as a lecturer at the then University of Durban-Westville where I completed a 3 year stint as and Professor and Head of the Psychology Department. I was head-hunted by the Child, Youth, Family and Social Development Research Unit of the Human Sciences Research Council in 2002 and appointed as a director and later as an executive director in the research programme until March 2014. I then spent most of my time as an independent research consultant, prior to joining the MRC. I am currently the capacity development lead in a multi-country, scale up effort of evidence-based mental health and well-being of children and adolescents (including issues related to HIV). My current focus on adult mental health is concerned with integrating mental health into primary care using evidence-based practice. In this time, I have been involved in a number of large-scale, multi-country projects involving adolescent and adult mental health, including issues related to HIV.
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