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International funding awarded to Nottingham experts to support global recovery from Covid-19

Friday, 11 December 2020

A new project, led by experts from the University of Nottingham, has received international funding to help improve the emotional, economic and behavioural resilience of students to Covid-19 in African Universities.

The project, jointly led by experts from the University of Zambia, has received funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

The funding will enable experts from the UK and across developing countries, to work in partnership to address the negative psychological and economic impacts of Covid-19 on communities that are already vulnerable due to long-term conflict, food and water shortages and crowded living conditions.

Professor Cris Glazebrook from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, and Professor Anitha Menon from the University of Zambia, are leading the project in collaboration with Professor Heather Wharrad in the School of Health Sciences and Dr Bethan Davies from MIndTech (at the University of Nottingham) and academics from the Universities of Malawi, Copperbelt and Apex in Zambia.

The team are also working with a local social enterprise, BongoHive, to produce a culturally sensitive and engaging online education programme (Covid-19 Education for African Students - COVEDAS),to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The pandemic has increased rates of mental health problems in students, which can impact negatively on academic performance. This is a particular concern in low-income countries, such as Zambia and Malawi, where students have limited access to mental health services.

As part of the project, the team will increase emotional resilience in vulnerable students by providing access to moodgym – an interactive, online therapy that helps people to learn and practice skills to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.

We want to see if combining moodgym with a university-wide onine Covid-19 prevention programme will improve students’ mental health and enhance their ability to withstand the health and economic challenges of Covid-19. The online Covid-19 prevention programme, adapted for each local area, will portray health-promotion behaviours such as social distancing and face coverings as a normal part of student life.
Professor Glazebrook

The team will collect feedback from the prevention programme and survey data before and after the moodgym/ Covid-19 prevention programme intervention to look for improvements in depression, academic performance and Covid-19 prevention behaviours. They will also check whether benefits are felt equally by men and women.

They will interview participants to try to understand how moodgym helped them and to explore their feelings about the impact of Covid-19 on their mood and studies.

The findings will help to establish if this is a sustainable and effctive model for supporting the mental and physical health of students in low income countries.

These awards are the second tranche announced by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

After a first group of 20 projects were funded in August, it means a total of 39 partnerships are working across every part of the Global South investigating everything from improving health systems in Africa to how the pandemic is affecting fishing communities, displaced people and people with disabilities.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Defeating coronavirus is a truly global endeavour, which is why we’re backing Britain’s scientists and researchers to work with their international counterparts to find tech solutions to treat and combat this virus around the world.

“The research projects we are backing will ensure that we equip some of the most vulnerable communities with the resources they need to tackle Covid-19 and build their long-term resilience to respond to future pandemics, making us all safer.

“UKRI launched the call to address the urgent need to understand the specific challenges faced by some of the world’s poorest people in the face of this global crisis.”

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Cris Glazebrook at the University of Nottingham, at cris.glazebrook@nottingham.ac.uk ; or Charlotte Anscombe, Media Relations Manager in the Press Office at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 74 84417, charlotte.anscombe@nottingham.ac.uk

Charlotte Anscombe - Media Relations Manager - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Email: charlotte.anscombe@nottingham.ac.uk
Phone: 0115 748 4417
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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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