This paper introduces the TRANSFORM project, which aims to improve access to mental health services for people with seriou and enduring mental disorders (SMDs – psychotic disorders an severe mood disorders, often with co-occurring substance mis use) living in urban slums in Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Ibadan (Nigeria). People living in slum communities have high rates of SMDs, limited access to mental health services and conditions o chronic hardship. Help is commonly sought from faith-based and traditional healers, but people with SMDs require medical treatment, support and follow-up. This multicentre, internation mental health mixed-methods research project will (a) conduc community-based ethnographic assessment using participator methods to explore community understandings of SMDs and help-seeking; (b) explore the role of traditional and faith-based healing for SMDs, from the perspectives of people with SMDs, caregivers, community members, healers, community health workers (CHWs) and health professionals; (c) co-design, with CHWs and healers, training packages for screening, early detection and referral to mental health services; and (d) implement and evaluate the training packages for clinical and cost-effectiveness in improving access to treatment for those with SMDs. TRANSFORM will develop and test a sustainable intervention that can be integrated into existing clinical care and inform priorities for healthcare providers and policy makers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere185
Number of pages9
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number6
Early online date13 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press
on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This is an Open
Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution
and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.


This study/project is funded by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) (Award number: NIHR200846). S.P.S. is supported by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) West Midlands. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2022.


  • collaboration
  • faith and traditional healers
  • low-and-middle-income countries
  • Serious mental illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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