Department of Psychology Adjuncts – Siân Coker and Paul Fisher together with Alvin Ng win UEA Engagement Award for Group Achievement

They received the Group Achievement Award for their work with the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) on Mental Health Literacy (MHL) training in June 2019. The announcement of this award can be found here: https://www.uea.ac.uk/community-university-engagement/awards

Prof Alvin Ng, Dr Paul Fisher and Prof Sian Coker in a recent online meeting
Prof Alvin Ng, Dr Paul Fisher and Prof Sian Coker in a recent online meeting

Siân and Paul are both from Norwich Medical School, UEA, and are also adjunct staff of the Department of Psychology at the School of Science and Technology (SST), Sunway University. Alvin, Head of Psychology at SST has held the position Honorary Senior Lecturer at Norwich Medical School in UEA since 2017.  The Engagement Award is a further example of the successful partnership between UEA and Sunway which began in 2015. Its steady growing value was highlighted in this 2018 article: https://university.sunway.edu.my/blog/university-east-anglia-encouraged….

The UEA Engagement Awards are open to all UEA staff and students who have shown excellence in their public engagement work over the past year. The three categories for these awards are Achievement, Project and Student. These highly competitive annual awards celebrate distinctions in engagement that are formally recognised by the university and usually publicly celebrated at an awards reception hosted by the Vice-Chancellor. Sadly, given the COVID-19 pandemic this year, there was no award-giving ceremony.

The recognition given to this Mental Health Literacy work in Malaysia is one to be commended. They are the only group to win the Achievement Award. The judging panel received 30 nominations this year, all of which were of a very high standard. Out of these nominations, only 17 awards were given. The judges commented that, “The MHL training programme delivered to healthcare workers in Malaysia in June 2019 that involved close collaboration and engagement with WHO and MOH Malaysia is to be applauded.”

Dean of Science and Technology at Sunway University, Prof Serge Demidenko has this to say, “The Award recognises the on-going joint research and academic activities of the international team, as well as celebrates the valuable contribution Siân, Paul and Alvin made to the Malaysian healthcare sector. It is a convincing testimony of the quality of our research links with international partners that also supports Sunway University’s fast-growing academic reputation.”

Prof Niall Broomfield, Head of Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Therapies at Norwich Medical School, UEA, commented, “I was so pleased to nominate this important collaboration between academics in our Department at UEA and colleagues in Malaysia, for this year’s UEA Engagement Awards. I was delighted when this was selected for this year’s Group Achievement Award. The awards acknowledge members of staff and students from UEA whose work has made a public impact over the last 12 months, whether by sharing their knowledge with others or by inspiring the next generation. This award is also a testament to the successful partnership and enduring relationship between the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Therapies at UEA and the Department of Psychology,  School of Science and Technology at Sunway University in Malaysia.  We look forward to the partnerships continued success in future years”
 
Comments from the Team:
Alvin stated , “I am very glad to have Siân and Paul as adjuncts at the Department of Psychology. They have been very instrumental in developing training for clinical psychologists in Malaysia, as well as to progress mental health literacy in our government and non-government organisations. For this collaboration to be recognised with an award is a wonderful validation of combined efforts and commitment between our departments and universities towards global community development. Siân and Paul have also been active in providing training and consultancy at SOLS Health, a non-government organisation in Kuala Lumpur that is a non-profit, community-based centre that provides affordable mental health services. Siân and I are also Advisors to SOLS Health.”

Siân commented, “This piece of work was facilitated by Sunway University generously hosting my sabbatical in Malaysia in 2019, and reflects the successful collaboration between colleagues from UEA, Sunway, Ministry of Health Malaysia and WHO Malaysia. We look forward to continuing this collaboration on future projects.”

Paul added, “Having been working with colleagues in Sunway since 2015, it was such an honour and privilege to work with Alvin and Siân to develop and deliver this training for MOH and WHO. We are very grateful for the support given to our team by Dr Nurashikin Ibrahim and Dr Karen Sharmini from MOH, as well as Dr Ying-Ru Jacqueline Lo from WHO, and we hope to work with them again. One of the next steps we would like to peruse to support the develop of mental health services within Malaysia would be to introduce further awareness, training and consultancy about how health care workers can use low intensity Cognitive Behaviour Therapy principles within their work”

Paul, with the help of Siân and Alvin, developed and delivered a three-day Mental Health Literacy (MHL) training programme for the MOH, which was supported by the WHO Malaysia Office. The MHL training programme was delivered to healthcare workers in Malaysia. These healthcare workers came from various governmental and nongovernmental organisations who provided mental health services to the community. This story was covered previously in the Sunway University news (see: https://news.sunway.edu.my/articles/university/sunway-university-adjunc…).

Dr Paul Fisher in a discussion with stakeholders from the Ministry of Health Malaysia in June 2019.
Dr Paul Fisher in a discussion with stakeholders from the Ministry of Health Malaysia in June 2019.

Overall the MHL project included:  

  • A literature review of MHL in Malaysia and similar low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) leading to the development of a framework template to support all phases of the work.
  • Development and delivery of a three-day, highly interactive training package for healthcare workers and resources to evaluate this package.
  • Development and delivery of two additional stakeholder days in Malaysia working alongside MOH colleagues, which sought to review the training, all materials and the delivery of the MHL programme to healthcare staff.
  • Dissemination of the outcomes of the project and ongoing discussions with WHO on the implementation of MHL interventions in LMICs. Further dissemination occurred in Malaysia as well as at UEA in the UK.
Prof Alvin Ng, Prof Siân Coker and Dr Paul Fisher with some of the stakeholders of the MHL training in June 2019. Dr Karen Sharmini Sandanasamy (left) and Dr Nurashikin Ibrahim (3rd from left) from MOH Malaysia were instrumental in organising the training programme.
Prof Alvin Ng, Prof Siân Coker and Dr Paul Fisher with some of the stakeholders of the MHL training in June 2019. Dr Karen Sharmini Sandanasamy (left) and Dr Nurashikin Ibrahim (3rd from left) from MOH Malaysia were instrumental in organising the training programme.

Evaluation from those who attended the training and from key stakeholders indicated that the training package was very positively received. Participants found the workshop helpful and relevant. The range of interactive teaching methods was rated very highly. Following the training a range of recommendations were put forward to further develop and extend the work and these, alongside all training materials, were presented to MOH Malaysia and WHO.

The Department of Psychology and School of Science and Technology are very proud of this achievement by Prof Sian Coker, Dr Paul Fisher and Prof Alvin Ng. It is hoped that the award would further strengthen the academic links between the two universities, leading to new impactful research and development projects and initiatives.