Our work on self-harm started when Rob Poole visited Mysuru in South India in 2010. He travelled with Peter Lepping in order to speak at a conference and to visit Dr Murali Krishna, who had moved back home to Mysuru from North Wales. Whilst in India, they were asked for advice by Dr Rajendra Rajagopal, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Mysore Medical College and Research Institute, who wanted to establish a secondary care self-harm register. The following year, Rob Poole returned with Catherine Robinson and an active collaboration commenced. At this early stage, a document was drawn up, which set out the principles that have informed our subsequent work in global mental health. These are:
- Relevance for local population: research questions determined locally
- Rigour: adherence to international best practice ethical and methodological standards, using methods appropriate to the social, economic and cultural setting
- Capacity building: all projects seek to improve the capacity and capability of researchers to conduct high quality research
- Reciprocation: a partnership of equals that acknowledges the difficulties caused by the United Kingdom’s colonialist legacy
- Protocol driven: research protocols are drafted and agreed prior to data collection
- Funded: activities are conducted using properly identified and allocated resources
- Equitable credit: authorship agreements in place prior to data collection
- Shared intellectual property rights
We developed a series of projects based upon grants from the British Council and the Tropical Health Education Trust before securing our current £4.5 million grant from UKRI-GCRF. We now have involvement in a number of countries in south Asia and beyond.
Over time we have increasingly recognised the overlaps between self-harm, suicide and non-accidental injury, especially amongst women, and the importance of conducting research that takes no a priori position over intentionality with regard to harm.