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A cross-cultural, mixed methods study of school climate and adolescent mental health

   Department of Global Health and Social Medicine

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  Dr Kelly Rose-Clarke  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Mental health problems in adolescence can have devastating and long-lasting effects on health and development, but access to treatment is limited, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where 90% of the world’s adolescents live. One approach supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF is to locate mental health care in schools where it is easily accessible to adolescents and can be delivered by trained school staff. However, individual schools differ dramatically in terms of their norms, policies, and values (collectively termed school climate), meaning that some schools are likely to be more suitable places for mental health intervention than others. Moreover, research has shown that a positive school climate in which students feel listened to, valued, and able to express themselves, is associated with improved academic performance, and reduced violence, substance use, and problem behaviour.

Understanding which elements of the school climate promote and which elements undermine mental health is crucial for the design and implementation of effective and feasible school-based interventions. However, most research on school climate and mental health has been done in high-income countries. There has been limited cross-cultural work in LMICs despite the diversity of adolescents’ experiences of mental health and school in these settings. The PhD aims to address this gap by exploring how school climate is conceptualised and related to adolescent mental health in Nepal.

Working in partnership with Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal, an experienced mental health research organisation, the PhD student will:

  • Build a conceptual model of the effects of school climate on adolescent mental health by reviewing qualitative and quantitative research from LMICs
  • Review the characteristics and mechanisms of existing interventions that seek to improve adolescent mental health by targeting the school climate
  • Explore how school climate influences adolescent mental health and how it can be optimised by consulting with adolescents, teachers, parents, and health workers in Nepal.
  • Explore associations between school climate and adolescent mental health by analysing survey data from a trial of a school-based mental health intervention in Nepal.
  • Integrate findings related to objectives 1-4 to make recommendations about how to optimise the school climate for mental health intervention in Nepal, with learning for other LMIC settings.

Through the PhD, the student will develop as a sensitive and skilled mixed methods global mental health researcher with solid experience in an international partnership and a broad academic network. The PhD will have impact generating learning on school climate to inform local and global policy and research on school-based mental health care in LMICs.

Studentship Overview

The student will be supervised by Dr Kelly Rose-Clarke and will join the Mental Health and Society Research Group within the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, King’s College London. The PhD is nested within a larger research programme led by KCL and TPO on adolescent mental health in Nepal, funded through the supervisor’s UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.

The studentship is restricted to students with ‘Home Fee Status’ and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS-DTP). It will be funded at £19,688 per annum (2022-23) full-time or £9,834.00 per annum part-time, plus fees paid for the duration of the award.

The student will have regular opportunities to apply for additional funding to support the costs of research training and development and overseas institutional visits, among other options. The studentship is available from October 2023.

Applicant Background and Application Process

Applicants must be able to demonstrate skills in at least three of the four major ESRC core research methods areas - social theory, qualitative methods, quantitative methods, and research design – in level 7 (Master’s) modules.

The successful applicant will have:

  1. A MSc in Global Mental Health or another relevant field
  2. Experience conducting research in the Global South on child and adolescent mental health interventions
  3. Experience writing peer-reviewed global mental health research publications
  4. Qualitative and quantitative research skills
  5. Strong communication and project management skills
  6. Ability to demonstrate skills in collaborative working, across countries and disciplines
  7. Experience conducting literature reviews

Application deadline is 16:00 hrs on February 5th 2023

Interviews will take place on the 21st of February by video conference. To apply, applicants should prepare a single PDF file titled with their name and containing the following materials:

  1. Completed application form that can be found here (read-only, please download)
  2. Completed diversity monitoring form found here
  3. Cover letter detailing qualifications/experience and interest in the PhD (max 2 A4 sides).
  4. CV (max 2 A4 sides) with names of the academic referees.
  5. Sample of written work, ideally demonstrating their ability to work with, analyse and display data (could be a publication, dissertation, project or coursework or any other relevant material).

This single PDF file should be sent to [Email Address Removed]. Please ensure this is done before 16:00 hrs on the 5th of February 2023.

Any questions should be sent by the 5th February 2023 to [Email Address Removed] titled “Nepal PhD 2023”. 

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