Monday, 25 July 2011

Introducing Professor Derrick Silove

Professor Derrick Silove is Director of the Psychiatry Research & Teaching Unit at Liverpool Hospital’s Mental Health Centre in New South Wales.

Specialising in the area of mass trauma and transcultural psychiatry, Professor Silove and his team are at the forefront of research in the field of refugee and post-conflict mental health worldwide.

He has played a key role in establishing services for traumatic stress amongst refugees and conflict-affected populations Internationally, and for anxiety disorders in general in Australia. Professor Silove holds a number of National Health and Medical Research Council grants and is working with leading researchers around Australia to examine the longitudinal impact of severe injuries.

In his keynote address to the Many Paths, One Purpose Expert Forum hosted by the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health on 12 August 2011, Professor Silove will show how expanding our terms of reference from the large western-population based studies of the past to include newer studies in developing countries is improving our understanding of psychiatric problems across countries and cultures in general. Recently he said:
“Thanks to large-scale epidemiological studies across many countries we are getting closer to building a global picture of the mental health situation. This is something that just wasn’t there in the past.”

Although the assessment and measurement of traumatic stress and related reactions across cultures remains controversial, Professor Silove sees the aim of the research as identifying the needs of different populations to enable practitioners to tailor mental health services to match:
The Composite International Diagnostic Interview is still the most widely used measure for making diagnoses across different countries and populations. I am concerned that these diagnoses, and the criteria used to identify them, may be limited in certain ways to a western notion of psychology and psychiatry.
Even though diagnoses like Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are relevant to other countries and cultures, we might be missing out on the ways people express feelings of distress that are specific to their cultural background. We also run the risk of underestimating mental health needs in the countries that need them most.”

Professor Silove will present research from Vietnam, and from Vietnamese populations living in Australia, that shows the benefits of using a culturally specific measure of mental distress and explores the diverse ways in which people express their distress following a traumatic experience.

For further information on the ACPMH Expert Forum, Many paths One Purpose, click here.

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