Dr Vilas Sawrikar

Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

Contact details

Address

Street

Medical Quad
Teviot Place
Doorway 6, Rm 1.M8

City
Edinburgh
Post code
EH8 9AG

Background

I am a Lecturer of Clinical Psychology in the School of Health and Social Sciences and a registered Clinical Psychologist. I completed my postgraduate studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia, where I completed a combined Masters/Phd in in Clincial Psychology.  I was then fortunate to have postodoctoral research fellowships at the University of Sydney conducting health service research in mental illness prevention. Clinical psychology is a career change for me. I have also previously worked as a Health Economist implementing components of National Health Reform, including optimisation of hospital funding systems and resource allocation into practice. I aim to combine both professional skills focusing on effective intervention of early onset mental health problems and preventing illness progression to lifetime disorders.

Qualifications

PhD in Clinical Psychology

Ms in Clinical Psychology

Graduate/Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology

Ms Applied Statitistics

B Economics

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Research summary

My area of interest is mental illness prevention among children and young people informed by clinical research, social determinants of health, and health service research. The main thrust of the work is translating research into evidence-based interventions and service delivery systems to prevent the onset of mental illness, ensure the primary aims of treatment are achieved, and prevent early-onset mental health problems from progressing to lifetime mental disorders. I am particularly interested in these aspects of research in optimising psychotherapy interventions for emotion dysregulation and disruptive behaviour/mood problems (i.e., anger, irritability, aggression, tantrums, depression) given they often characterise lifetime trajectories of poor mental health. My research also focuses on parenting interventions as the basis of treatment as well as primary and secondary prevention for common mental health problems among children and young people. Further, I am interested in research examining health service delivery and quality of CAMHS healthcare given that the effectiveness of any tintervention will only be as good as the quality of service/system that delilvers them.  

Key issues addressed within themes include:

Clinical research: The aim is to determine how best to design treatments in ways that are sensitive to, and capitilise on, individual differences in developmental pathways to mental illness and responses to psychological interventions. I explore novel approaches to optimising treatment outcomes through developments in neuroscience and precision-based psychotherapy practice. 

Social determinants of health: The work focuses on reducing the occurrence of lifetime mental disorders, through addressing wider determinants of mental health (e.g., individual, social and economic, environment). Areas of interest include optimal health service delivery, social determinants of mental health, as well as system-, economic- and individual-level factors associated with inequality in mental health and mental health care for children and young people.

Health service research: With a focus on optimal service delivery, I examine the management of limited public health resources to deliver evidence-based interventions efficiently while being effective and accessible. The work also focuses on service delivery factors associated with inequality in mental health care

Past research interests

Health cost and funding systems to determine allocation of economic resources

Project activity

I invite prospective students to contact me if they are interested in any of the following research projects or potentially related areas. 

Clinical research

1. Parenting interventions for child behavioural and emotional problems: This is pursued through examining child- and parent-level correlates of child behavioural and emotional problems relevant to predicting and moderating outcomes. Areas of research include studying (i) emotionally dysregulated children and adolescents, (ii) disruptive mood problems (anger, irritability, aggression), and (iii) parenting and family processes (parental attributions, expressed emotion) worthy of focus in interventions.

2. Stage appropriate psychotherapy interventions for depression. This research is focused on examining heterogeneity in depressive disorders with reference to individual differences in cognitive, emotion, and behavioural deficits across different subtypes and stages of the depression course. The research aims to optimise psychotherapy outcomes for depression by personalising therapy to individual characteristics and where the individual sits along a continuum representing depression course. 

3. Mechanisms of recurrent depression. The  current empirical evidence is inconclusive regarding the underlying mechanisms of recurrent depression (Burcusa & Iacono, 2007; Buckman et al., 2016). I examine the role of cognitions and emotion regulation as potential mechanisms underlying recurrent depression.

Early and Social Determinants of Mental Health

1. Determinants of illness progression from childhood-onset mental illness to chronic disorders in adulthood: I am interested in understanding individual differences in the course of mental illness through transitions in early stages of life, beginning from behavioural-emotional problems in childhood to later onset of mood and affective problems. 

Health service research

1. Engaging fathers in early intervention programs. Fathers are significantly underrepresented in CAMHS services. This project is part of ongoing research involving implementation of practitioner training for increasing practitioner skills in working with fathers within the CAMHS service context. 

2. Social-economic and health service determinants of service utilisation. The 'treatment gap' represents the difference between the demand and supply for mental health services. The research is interested in access to and service utilisation of mental health care in this context, especially among children and young people.

3. Stage-based care in mental health.  There is ongoing need for innovation in service delivery to ensure mental health services deliver high-quality treatment and prevention in the population. This research proposes the adoption of ‘staged care’ as a population health-oriented service delivery model for packages of integrated services to ensure primary aims of treatment and secondary prevention are achieved. The work involves operationalising various aspects of staged care.

View all 13 publications on Research Explorer