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We are more than half-way through the year Sharain Suliman joined us in August and there is much that has been going at the to take over from Kerrin. Sharain Mental Health Information Centre. Due to a previously worked at the MHIC and number of staff changes Newsletter 2 did was involved in several studies deal-not go out in time, therefore we have de-
cided to combine it with Newsletter 3. In this der at the MRC Unit on Anxiety and edition we focus on keeping you updated on Stress Disorders. She has training in the research activities of the MRC Anxiety & Psychological Research and gained Stress Disorders Unit, as well as report on further experience in the field while our activities over the last few months and working for a psychometric assess-our recent staff changes.
NEW STAFF AT THE MHIC perience in the field of mental health
End of March we said our goodbyes to Johnny Daniels who had been the MHIC ad-
ministrative officer for the past 2 years. Shortly after that we welcomed Allen Liwani as our new MHIC admin officer. Allen works
with us in the afternoons and is responsible
for our finances and website, assists in the MHIC call-centre and with our publications. She also assists Dr Christine Lochner with
data-capturing and administrative tasks in
the morning. In this short period we have
grown to appreciate Allen's friendly and hardworking nature.
Manager, resigned in June to pursue a ca-
reer in trauma counselling. In her time here
Kerrin ensured the smooth running of the MHIC and we were sad to say goodbye to
Psychoeducation and Information Dissemination
Anxiety and Stress Disorders Unit—Research Update
Apart from spreading information and pamphlets to a
One of the MHIC's goals is to increase awareness
lay audience, professionals and organisations on a
on mental health issues and combat the stigma
daily basis the Mental Health Information Centre also
associated with mental disorders. Therefore we
has regular info sessions for those organisations who
continue to represent and man an exhibition table
wish to learn more about our services. In June the
at a number of different forums. On June 17th the
MHIC received a team of 8 social workers from the City
MHIC was invited to the MRC Youth Day where we
of Cape Town Emergency Services to whom we pre-
disseminated information to adolescents from vari-
sented a slide show on the MHIC and stigma.
On 25 May the MHIC hosted a Continued Medical Edu-
On 16 & 17 August the MHIC staff manned an ex-
cation session in collaboration with Aspen Pharmacare.
hibition table at The Faculty of Health Sciences,
This event took place at the BMW Pavilion at the Wa-
University of Stellenbosch annual Academic Year
terfront in Cape Town and Dr James Butler, a neurolo-
Day. At this forum for innovative research, where
gist at Constantiaberg Mediclinic, presented on Epi-
experts in various fields presented state-of-the-art
lepsy: Current Treatment Options. The talk was well
lectures, we were able to inform students, lectur-
received by the mixed audience of GP's, paediatricians
ers, GP’s Psychiatrists, and any other interested
Prof Dan Stein’s vision of developing an internationally recognized Centre of Excellence in Brain-Behaviour Studies is on its way to be-ing realized, with the NRF having provisionally accepted a Brain-Behaviour Initiative as a Research Niche Area (RNA). The initial fo-cus of this RNA will be on vulnerability and resilience after trauma. Congratulations Prof Stein! As in previous years, the unit has several core groups, The Posttrau-matic Stress Disorder Unit, The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Unit, and the Genetics, Brain Imaging and Animal Models Units.
Prof Soraya Seedat, Director of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorders Unit, continues to provide a free screening, assessment and referral service to youth who have been exposed to trauma, through the Bathuthuzele Youth Stress Clinic. She is involved in a number of other studies, including an investigation into the possible effects of stress in people contracting tuberculosis. This study, which was initiated earlier in the year, is being done in conjunction with the TB Unit at Tygerberg Hospital. A study on the impact of maternal stress and trauma and infant neurodevelopment in HIV-infected infants is currently ongoing. Research assistants, Liezel le Roux (née de Villiers), Fatima Parker and Roxanne Martinussen assist Prof Seedat with her numerous studies. Earlier this year, Prof Seedat, together with Dr Keith Ganasen, the unit’s medical officer, launched a prospec-tive follow-up study of posttraumatic stress symptoms in mortuary workers. Dr Ganasen is also working with Dr Paul Carey, on a PTSD/Olanzapine trial and a treatment trial of depressed people, who are on AntiRetroViral’s, with Escitalopram. Dr Carey is Co-Director of the Brain Imaging Programme and has been involved in the imag-ing of individuals with anxiety and substance use disorders, in many of the unit’s studies.
Dr Christine Lochner, has once again been touring the country to recruit participants for the Genetics of Anxiety Disorders Program, of which she is Co-Director. She recently presented a workshop in Pretoria, for 4 clinicians (psychologists in private practice) to join the project. They will help her with recruitment and interviewing. She has also obtained the help of two private clinicians in the Cape Town area to do the same. Collaboration between the Unit, and clinicians at Groote Schuur and Lentegeur (to recruit and interview - and increase the numbers) is also underway. Dr Bavi Vythilingum is a post-doctoral fellow with interests in genetic and environmental contributions to early anxiety. She is looking at the interaction of psychological, physiological, neural and environmental factors related to anxiety and stress in pregnancy, and outcomes on the infant. Annerine Roos and Sister Robyn Kalan are work-ing with her on this project. Annerine is also doing her PhD in the area and is the unit’s Near Infrared Spectros-copy (NIRS) Technician.
Ilse Jordaan is a clinical psychologist who assists with the neuropsychological assessments for various studies e.g. the adolescent PTSD imaging study and the Sydenham's Chorea studies. Another key person is Helena Smit, the Unit's administrator who ensures the smooth running of the unit.
On 10 May 2006 Prof Dan Stein was inaugurated as chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town. A wide variety of people filled the auditorium to listen to Prof Stein’s inaugural lecture. Congratulations go out to Jonathan Ipser and Keith Ganasen: Jonathan, Prof Stein and Prof Seedat were awarded the Kenneth Warren Prize for best Cochrane review from a developing nation over the previous year. The topic was Pharmacotherapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) Keith was the only South African, among 30 other Africans, selected to attend the (all-expenses paid) IBRO/Fogarty Neuroscience School focus-ing on HIV/AIDS in Kinshasa (1-5 September). Well done to them both!
Congratulations also go out to Bavi, on the birth of her new son, Avindrha, and Winnie on the adoption of her baby boy, Arno Jabulani!
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