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Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry & East London NHS Foundation Trust

The Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry is part of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. The Unit carries out an extensive research programme, in addition to providing undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. In 2012 it was designated as a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development. The Unit is led by Professor Stefan Priebe, with over 30 members of staff including clinical lecturers, researchers, PhD students and research clinicians.

Our research work is focused on concepts, methods and practice of social and community psychiatry, with a particular emphasis on social interactions in mental health care. This includes evaluating care in naturalistic and experimental studies, developing and testing innovative treatment methods, exploring historical and epidemiological aspects and carrying out studies on communication and therapeutic relationships.

The Unit has a significant track record of implementing complex interventions in the context of the National Health System and in Europe, including research on doctor- patient communication, day hospitals, and financial incentives for medication, patient reported outcomes and non-verbal therapies.
Read more here.

Research Team

Dr Domenico Giacco (Chief Investigator)

Dr Domenico Giacco is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Associate Clinical Professor at the Department of Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Warwick. He qualified as a psychiatrist in Naples (Italy), and worked at East London NHS Foundation Trust as a Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Research Fellow, accruing experience and expertise in research in social psychiatry.  

His research activities focus on developing and evaluating innovative models for provision of acute and community mental health care. He has developed and rigorously tested interventions to reduce social isolation in psychosis, improve shared decision making in acute psychiatric settings and facilitate implementation of service users and families centred care. 

His research has also identified principles of good practice for mental health care of refugees and other migrants, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation.

Read his publications here.

Dr Domenico Giacco

Professor Stefan Priebe (Co-Lead Investigator)

Professor Stefan Priebe graduated in Psychology and Medicine, and qualified as Neurologist, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist in Germany.  He was the Head of the Department of Social Psychiatry at the Free University Berlin, before he took up his current post in 1997 as Professor for Social and Community Psychiatry at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (Queen Mary, University of London). He holds visiting professorships in other European countries.

Stefan Priebe developed the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, which in 2012 became a designated WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development and of which he is the Director. In various roles in the United Kingdom and abroad, he has been involved in both developing services and steering research activities in psychiatry. He was a principal investigator for a number of large European collaborative studies. His research focuses on understanding helpful relationships, developing novel therapeutic approaches and evaluating complex interventions in mental health care.

Read his publications here.

Professor Stefan Priebe

Agnes Chevalier (Programme Manager)

Agnes Chevalier graduated in Psychology at University College London and completed her Masters at Goldsmiths, University of London.

She has worked at the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry since 2014 where she gained experience working on a number of trials evaluating psycho-social interventions, as well as working therapeutically in acute mental health care settings. Most recently Agnes was coordinating a similar NIHR-funded programme exploring the effectiveness of one-to-one volunteer support for people with psychosis.  

Her research interests include access to mental health care, particularly in crisis, the experience of inpatient treatment and care, and the reduction of social isolation among people with mental illness.

Agnes Chevalier

Natalia Lopez-Chemas (Research Assistant)

Natalia completed her Psychology degree in Colombia and her Mental Health Sciences MSc at University College London, both with a focus on research.She has worked in community and inpatient settings as an Assistant Psychologist and Therapeutic Assistant, delivering low intensity cognitive-behavioural therapy to individuals and groups.

After finishing her master’s degree she worked for a digital mental-health start-up supporting the adoption of a digital tool by providing clinical perspective and managing relationships with clients to support product development. She then went to work as a Research Assistant in the ADePT study at Sussex NHS Foundation Trust before joining East London Foundation Trust as a Research Assistant with the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry.

Natalia Lopez-Chemas

Anna Walker (Research Assistant)

Anna Walker works as a Research Assistant on the SCENE project, and is also a trained High-Intensity CBT Therapist.

Throughout her career, Anna has worked in both clinical and research settings, enjoying the practicalities of applying evidence-based interventions to meet individual needs in clinical settings. She has held roles with adults and young people with a variety of presenting issues related to mental health (inpatient, community and criminal justice settings). She has also worked with adults with autism and learning disabilities in both a clinical and research capacity.

Anna is particularly interested in researching marginalised groups in society whose voices are often missing from mainstream healthcare and clinical research. Previous research projects include:

  • Mixed methods analysis exploring the impact of mainstreaming healthcare on adults in Newham with a mild learning disability.
  • RCT on the effects of a brief intervention for young people in the criminal justice system with substance abuse problems.
  • Systematic review of interventions for children and adolescents following the addition of limited prosocial emotions specifier to the DSM-5. 
Anna Walker

Matthew Faires (Research Assistant)

Matthew completed a masters degree in Psychiatric Research at King’s College London in 2018 before beginning his research career at the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. In this role he worked across The Royal College of Psychiatrists and UCL’s Department of Clinical Educational and Health Psychology on projects varying from national multi-site RCTs of psychosocial interventions for psychosis to development of NHS practice guidance.  

Prior to joining the SCENE team in May 2021, he has facilitated mental health service users’ engagement in community based activities in his role as an England Athletics Mental Health Ambassador

Matthew Faires