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Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

Wolfson MSc student wins QM prize

One of our MSc students – Ioanna Skaltsa - has been awarded one of only 5 College prizes within the SMD this year awarded to postgraduate taught students for academic excellence ( as indicated by the award of a Masters Degree or an MClinDent with distinction).

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Congratulations to Ioanna!

Few words from Ioanna:

Undertaking the MSc in Mental Health: Psychological Therapies at QMUL, has been a privilege and a highly rewarding experience. Being biracial (Greek-Japanese), whilst living in Greece; a country which lacks multicultural services, I was enthusiastic by the fact that this MSc programme, highlighted culture as an area that merits exploration within individuals’ assessment and treatment delivery, by providing rich insights and knowledge necessary to develop cultural competence. Lectures and tutorials provided opportunities to engage with thought-provoking issues and reflect on cutting-edge topics using a systematic approach towards developing critical thinking and research skills. As a CBT therapist, learning about different psychological therapies from expert clinicians has fostered open-mindedness and incorporating research into practice, while working with psychiatric inpatients during my placement.

Importantly, I had the opportunity to conduct research on my topic of interest under the excellent guidance, support, and encouragement to independent thinking of my research supervisor Dr. Heidrun Bien. My thesis was a systematic review on “The impact of immigration detention on the mental health of adult asylum-seekers”. An independent adverse impact of detention on asylum-seekers’ mental health was indicated, with even brief detention being associated with severe disturbance, while prolonged length of stay was identified as a risk factor for mental health and a predictor of long-term psychological harm. Length of detention, legal status, and pre-migration trauma appeared to be important factors in influencing symptom levels. It was shown that detention constitutes a serious stressor characterized by deprivation, powerlessness, injustice, inhumanity, and uncertainty; underlying the requisiteness of policy re-evaluation, mental health services within these settings, and awareness by mental health professionals. Currently I am taking seminars on human rights law and psychological first aid, whilst preparing for my role as a volunteer psychologist involving work with asylum-seekers and refugees.