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AFFIRM Components

Capacity Building

The capacity building component aims to build individual and institutional capacity for intervention research in mental health, in sub-Saharan Africa. This is addressed in part through the MPhil programme on Public Mental Health at UCT/Stellenbosch University, which sponsors 5 MPhil students from each of the 5 African countries other than South Africa. Other strategies include support for PhD students linked to the trials or shared projects, and short courses covering topics such as RCTs and policy making and planning for mental health.

Click here for the 2015 MPhil Fellowship Application forms.


Mphil_2012-2013_photo12012 saw the first intake of AFFIRM fellows onto the MPhil in Public Mental Health, run jointly by UCT and Stellenbosch University (SU). 11 students were accepted onto the course in 2012 (pictured in the photo below), and five were sponsored by AFFIRM for one year. The students attended a residential two week course run jointly by the two universities in January 2012 and then returned home to continue their data collection and dissertations. They worked under the guidance of their supervisors based at UCT or SU. The students were very positive about the residential course but felt that the time was too short.

Mphil_2012-2013_photo2In January 2013 the second residential course was held at UCT and SU, and it was extended to three weeks. Five fellows from the five AFFIRM countries attended the course (pictured below) and all appreciated and enjoyed their time. They are all now in different stages of research and dissertation writing. An increased effort has been made to find more academic and supervisorial support for the students once they are back in their home countries.

MPhil group 2014In 2014 we accepted eight students to the course; five of whom were funded by AFFIRM and three were self-funded (see photo below). At the beginning of 2014 we also employed an MPhil coordinator to manage and coordinate the course, and assist the students throughout the year. Dr Katherine Sorsdahl has been in the UCT psychiatry department since 2006, and we welcome her to the project.

In addition to the institutional support provided by the CPMH, students are also supported by institutional partners such as Columbia University, King's College, London and Johns Hopkins University, partners working as part of AFFIRM. For details of our MPhil Fellows' thesis topics, click here.

In 2015, five more fellows were awarded the scholarship, and three students self funded themselves. Dr Sorsdahl has proved to be of very valuable assistance in supporting the students and improving the delivery of the programme.