The Architecture of The Program
The goal of SAMI was to improve understanding of the multi-level causation of mental illness and addictions disorders. SAMI used a Competency-based training, an approach allowing learners to advance along a series of defined milestones on their way to specific outcome (1). The SAMI curriculum incorperated several competency domains aimed at developing knowledge, atttitudes, and skills for social aetiology research projects and proposals. These include:
- Research Methods: This included using an appropriate mix of analytical method, optimizing the web as a research tool, using policy to make change and conducting community-based research (CBR).
- Philosophy of Social Research: Think critically outside one’s own specialization or expertise, engaging in self-reflection, as well as recognizing the philosophical bases of ethnics.
- Scope and Theories of the Social Aetiology of Mental Illness: Including the role of the social and biological determinants of mental health and the interaction between them.
- Working Collaboratively: Interact appropriately in groups and engaging in team work and team building.
- Knowledge Exchange: Communicating research by using knowledge exchange frameworks and strategies
- Grant writing: Navigating the politics and stages of grant writing
- Leadership: Leading teams, building networks and operationalizing your vision.
The Training Program
SAMI was a multi-disciplinary training program that brought together a diverse group of innovative researchers and teachers from a variety of institutions for the first training program of its kind. Its faculty were experts that came from across the globe and included internationally recognized specialists at the London School of Economics; the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London; the University of Maastricht; and Toronto's Centre for Global eHealth Innovation and Hospital for Sick Children.
Applicants to the program included research students and MD's with at least 3 years of research training/experience who demonstrated interest in the social aetiology of mental illness. The minimum requirement to apply was a MD or PhD degree in a relevant field, including:
- Social and behavioral sciences (e.g., sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, and geography)
- Health sciences (e.g., psychiatry, public health, nursing, and social work)
- Basic sciences (e.g., genetics and neurosciences, including neurobiology and brain imaging)
- Humanities (e.g., ethics, education, and philosophy)
- Other related disciplines
Fellows began the program with 10-week didactic training course. Following this intensive class-based course, Fellows undertook 40 weeks of individual and collaborative research projects mentored by some of the best researchers in the field.