The workstream “Mental Health and Conflict” ran its first intensive short course Research methods for Mental Health in War and Conflict at Birzeit University. The course is jointly taught and certified by the Institute of Community & Public Health (ICPH), Birzeit University and King’s College London with the aim to equip course participants with up-to-date qualitative and quantitative research skills. Participants involved a fantastic group of 28 mental health workers, administrators and researchers working for institutions as diverse as the Ministry of Health, the Palestinian Counselling Centre, Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, UNRWA, MSF and various universities among others.

Course content was developed based on a needs assessment carried out among mental health professionals and administrators from 37 mental health and psychosocial institutions across the West Bank. This provided crucial insight into research skills, training needs and work requirements related to record keeping, data collection, analysis, report writing and fund-raising.

The course was taught in two segments. The first focused on qualitative research methods (9-14 July 2018) and the second focused on quantitative research methods (16/21 July 2018). While the course was theory-led, participants were given ample opportunities to apply concepts and techniques via practical and interactive activities, including a small research project and presentation focusing on the concept of uncertainty and its impact on mental health and wellbeing. Participants were enthusiastic about the course and contributed actively connecting their work experience in the field of mental health in conflict with the course content. Their positive learning experience was highlighted in the formal feedback, emphasizing the usefulness of lectures and workshops for their practical work, clear and interactive delivery of course content, and the collegiality between participants and course convenors.

The course will be further developed based on participants’ constructive feedback and an online component created to reach potential participants from Gaza and other parts of the region.

The course was team-taught by Rita Giacaman, Weeam Hammoudeh, Abdullatif Husseini, Hanna Kienzler, and Nancy Tamimi.