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Psychiatry unit designated as WHO research centre

The Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry has been re-designated as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre.

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The research Unit, based at the Newham Centre for Mental Health, is jointly operated by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and East London NHS Foundation Trust and is the only WHO Collaborating Centre specifically for 'mental health services development' in the world.

The Unit gained recognition in 2012, and has now been re-designated until 2020 in recognition of its ‘valuable contribution’ so far.  The Unit works closely with local clinical services and has established strong international reputation conducting large European studies and supporting the European Mental Health Action Plan.

Head of the Centre, Professor Stefan Priebe from QMUL, said: “I am delighted that the Unit has been re-designated. This has been a real achievement and not just a formality. We have made some important developments over the past four years and this continued collaboration ensures that we remain in an important role to influence international mental health policy.”

The work previously commissioned by the WHO for the Unit included a review of the mental health needs of refugees.

The resulting report delivered by researchers from the Unit found that refugees have elevated rates of mental disorders many years after resettlement, emphasising the importance of social support and integration in the host society. The report is intended as guidance for European governments at a time of large refugee movements.

During this second phase of collaboration, the Unit will focus on improving quality in mental health services development, strengthening patient-clinician communication, and developing future scenarios of mental health care, which includes the potential role of new technologies.

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