​​​​Message from the Director​​​​​

Mental health care should be for all, not a luxury!

Using implementation science to bring about the much-needed paradigm shift

​Unlike many other medical conditions, mental illness and suicides are on the rise; we are not reaching and/or treating the vast majority of people affected with mental ill health. It is clear we need to do better. But how do we do that, especially in resource and capacity constrained settings?  The Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) plans affect change through implementation (or delivery) science. BMI’s Implementation Science Team  consists of over 20 prominent researchers and practitioners, with exciting and multidisciplinary skillset, including expertise in psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, social and medical anthropology, mental health, suicide prevention, health economics, data science, public policy, and instructional design. This team will help move science from the ‘bench’ to the ‘community’ (as per BMI’s ethos of ‘from neuron to the neighborhood’). We aim to identify gaps in service and/or knowledge, while developing effective strategies to help improve access to care, overcoming disparities. This will be achieved through innovative, culturally sensitive solutions, engaging interdisciplinary teams (at the community level) to build action networks, while disseminating findings to communities and stakeholders for maximum impact.

Associate Director’s Corner

From academia to practice: Developing a favourable mental and neurological health environment in LMICs.

The Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) is the first completely integrated effort bringing together experts in East Africa and South Asia to generate new knowledge, advance education and advocate for improvements in mental and neurological health within the regions served and beyond.

​The BMI recognizes the importance of the community in mental health, and works to facilitate the transfer of research-informed care and education to community settings. We use innovations in evaluation and big data analysis to evaluate illness and treatment outcomes, guide treatment needs (drug and non-drug interventions), and provide training and competencies. The institute also acts as an incubator ecosystem for emerging researchers in the areas of mental health and neuroscience.


Meet the New Members of the BMI Family

We are excited to introduce to you our new staff who have joined us since April 2022!
We believe they will be a great asset in positioning BMI globally, and we welcome them to the team!


Staff spotlight: Q&A with Dr Fauziah Rabbani
What excites you about the work you do?
The aspect that motivates me the most is the ability to make a difference at the population and policy level.
What makes BMI unique? What is different about it?
BMI is distinctive in that it has a global expert team that brings diversity of thought and richness of ideas. BMI is different from previous places I've worked since it provides an umbrella to integrate mental health across all AKU entities rather than operating in a silo.
What is your secret to progress?
I feel that determination and perseverance have been my greatest allies to achieve progress throughout my work and life.
What does a typical day for you look like?
Every day, I look forward to going to work. If given the option, I feel that working from a dedicated office space is a more efficient use of academic time than working from home. In my calendar diary, I prefer to have tasks defined strategically and compartmentalised as research, education, and administration. They are categorised as most important, important, and not so important. The first half of my productive day is ideal for conceptual academic writing (manuscript and grant writing, project reports, preparing teaching sessions etc.). The second half of the day is reserved for project monitoring meetings with staff and thesis writing with graduate students. Administrative tasks are often kept at the end of the working day.


Institute Features/ Updates


Partnership to improve mental health in informal settlements​

The Brain and Mind Institute is collaborating with Nivishe Foundation to support the Mental Health Agenda in East Africa through advocacy, research, and innovative practices.  Nivishe Foundation, being rooted in service to Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Kenya and Africa, will leverage expertise and connections to this underserved population.  Interventions already in use by Nivishe Foundation are being monitored and evaluated to support the design and development of scalable and replicable models for implementation in similar populations​

AKU partnership to address growing epidemic in Africa

This partnership with Davos Alzheimer's Collaborative (DAC) involves a launch of a two-part research program for Alzheimer's disease: a cohort research study, and a clinical trial. Both are addressing the longstanding lack of diversity in Alzheimer's research, aimed at improving care, and increase access to future innovative treatments throughout Africa.​

Leveraging big data and data science to help identify areas of greatest need

In many parts of the world, mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. By some estimates, close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die annually from alcohol misuse, and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.

Few people have access to quality mental health services. In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75% of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment. Stigma, discrimination, punitive legislation and human rights abuses are widespread.


Coming up soon

The Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) will launch a series of micro-certification courses to raise awareness about mental health. The intended outcomes of the micro certification courses are to facilitate 1) early detection and recognition of mental illness, 2) reduction of stigma and 3) empathetic and supportive responses. In addition, the Mental Health Ambassadorship aspires to encourage people to seek treatment and support for mental illness rather than suffering in silence.

These courses will start in September with an innovative engagement strategy that includes a webinar series and didactic modular components involving expert and peer discussion sessions. BMI's Mental Health Ambassadorship certification courses requires no prerequisites to register, allowing a general audience to undertake these courses. The idea is to create a movement of mental health ambassadors that will identify those in need and support them, promoting mental well-being for all.

Be on the lookout! We will be sharing the registration details soon.

Events Recap


​Fathers’ Mental Health: The Unspoken Influence of Culture on Masculinity​

Community Engaged Health: An unachievable utopia or possible?

How Does Your Brain Deal With Stress


The New Science and Practice of Neurorecovery

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

We are happy to receive your comments and feedback. Email us at Brain&Mind@aku.edu