The HaCAL team at ARC NWC have been awarded £500,000 to investigate how political and stressful life events – including Covid-19 – have impacted older adults’ mental health in Colombia.
The 3-year project ‘Understanding the impact of political and stressful life events on the mental health of older adults in Colombia’ is set to be funded by the UKRI ESRC Newton grant, and it will combine existing datasets with new information collected using mental health surveys, individual interviews and focus groups to map the mental health condition and pressures on older adults in Colombia, suffering from decades of conflict and now COVID-19.
Leading the project from the UK will be ARC NWC’s Research Fellow Dr Clarissa Giebel. She said: “”This study is an amazing opportunity to strengthen our links between Liverpool and Medellin in Colombia, and to take learning from how older adults’ mental health can be impacted upon in an LMIC (Low-to-Middle-Income Countries) setting and apply that to the UK and other countries. By looking outside the North West Coast region and a completely different cultural settings, we can hopefully develop better mental health promotion for older adults not just in Colombia, but further afield.”
Once the evidence has been gathered, phase two of the project will see a community-based psychosocial care strategy and intervention co-designed and tested with older residents of the city of Turbo, Colombia, aimed at reducing and managing mental health problems.
Colombia has suffered political violence since the 1950s notably ‘La Violencia’, and more recently violence linked to drug cartels. This has had a serious impact on the nation’s mental health, and compounding these effects, Colombians are now being affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. It remains unclear how these events are affecting residents’ mental health and wellbeing, particularly older adults.
The three-year project is due to start in February 2021. It is led by Dr Clarissa Giebel, in the University’s Institute of Population Health, alongside Professor Mark Gabbay, Dr Frances Darlington-Pollock and Dr Ross White; as well as the University of Bradford’s Professor Siobhan Reilly; and Professor Maria Isabel Zuluaga and Professor Gabriel Saldarriaga at the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia.
DOWNLOAD an overview of the project here.
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Impact of global funding cuts
Unfortunately the government announced cuts to global research funding, and early in 2021 the budget for UK spending from UKRI was unilaterally reduced and limited to 1 year. Fortunately the Colombian government, despite the pandemic honoured its promises so the project is progressing, despite the unilateral withdrawal of UKRI funding post Brexit and Pandemic. We hope more funding will be available in future, but meanwhile we are continuing to support the work within the available funding envelope.