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Queen Mary academic receives fellowship for leading research in social psychiatry

Dr Mariana Pinto da Costa, a Queen Mary University of London Doctoral Research Fellow, has received a Fellowship from the World Association of Social Psychiatry.

4 November 2019


Mariana Pinto da Costa

The World Association of Social Psychiatry awarded 25 fellowships at its World Congress in Bucharest late last month. The Fellowships aim to recognise the work of professionals who are in the early stages of their careers in the field of Social Psychiatry.

Like the other people recognised, Mariana gave a presentation during the congress about her work since 2015 at the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry – a WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development.

She also works as Consultant Psychiatrist at the Newham Mental Health Hospital at East London NHS Foundation Trust, and as a Lecturer at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar at the University of Porto (from where she graduated).

At Queen Mary Mariana has been researching volunteering in mental health. She conducted 24 focus groups in three European countries, exploring the views of different stakeholders (mental health professionals and volunteers) about the relationships between people with mental illness and volunteers in the community – whether face-to-face or digitally. She also carried out a survey on how patients prefer to be in contact with volunteers: either in person or using technology. These findings have encouraged her to develop a new intervention, working closely with other community stakeholders, such as the Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research (SUGAR) and a national volunteering organisation (Befriending Networks). The Phone Pal aims to connect patients and volunteers remotely through a smart-phone, tackling social isolation while overcoming physical barriers and distances. Earlier this year the Royal College of Psychiatrists published a press release about her very encouraging findings, which reached sectors beyond academia and also other countries.

Mariana said that she was “proud and humbled to receive this Fellowship, encouraging further research in this field”. She said she had “a very enjoyable celebration in Romania with a typical dinner - with many songs and dances and being privileged to sit together and speak with many world leaders of Social Psychiatry”.

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For media information, contact:

Chris Mahony
Faculty Communications Manager (Medicine and Dentistry)
email: c.mahony@qmul.ac.uk