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, registered Clinical Psychologist, and Health Data Analyst/Statistician. I completed my postgraduate studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia, where I completed a combined Masters/Phd in in Clincial Psychology. My research was focused on family-based interventions for child mental health. I was then fortunate to have postodoctoral research fellowships at the University of Sydney conducting mental health service research focusing on population health-oriented system approaches to prevention and treatment. 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 clinical effectiveness research in mental health.

Qualifications

PhD in Clinical Psychology

Ms in Clinical Psychology

Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology

Graduate Diploma in Psychology

Ms Applied Statitistics

B Economics

Responsibilities & affiliations

Programme Director of Msc of Mental Health in Children and Young People: Psychological Approaches 

Deputy Director of Centre of Applied Developmental Psychology

Neurocognitive Psychology Group Member

PGR PhD & MsR Application Review Panel Member

Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

Postgraduate teaching

MSc Mental Health in Children and Young People: Psychological Approaches:

- Evidence-based Psychological Interventions for Children and Young People 

- Parenting: Theory and Practice

MSc in Applied Psychology (Healthcare) For Children and Young People: 

- Child and Adolescent Development

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Research summary

My research area of interest is environmental risk, neurodevelopment, and mental health; primarily in relation to externalising problems such as ADHD and behavioural problems. My work has a translational objective of early intervention and personalising mental health care for children, young people, and their families/carers to enhance effectiveness of treatment and arresting the risk of illness progression towards lifetime disorders. I adopt a multidisciplinary approach which includes: 

(i) Personalising interventions: Designing treatments in ways that are sensitive to, and capitilise on, individual differences in neurodevelopmental trajectories to mental illness and responses to treatment. I explore novel approaches to optimising outcomes through developments in transdiagnostic research, neuroscience and personalised medicine; especially in relation to neurodevelopmental and externalising syndromes (ADHD, Conduct, Emotion Dysregulation) that place children at risk for lifetime mental ilnesses such as depression and other mood problems. My work focuses on family-based treatments and covers how family and social determinants influence outcomes.

(ii) Social determinants of mental health: Examine the intersection between clinical and social determinants of child and adolescent mental health with the aim of improving prevention and treatment outcomes across the life course , especially among diverse underrepresented communities.

(iii) CAMHS service research: This is important  to providing quality healthcare by balancing considerations to personalising interventions, social determinants, and cost of healthcare to optimise healthcare for patients. To this end, I am interested in implementation of  stage-based care (population health-oriented healthcare system) to guide service innovation. 

Please refer to the research projects below about current activities focusing on personalising treatments for children, young people, and families/carers.

Current research interests

Clinical child and family psychology: child externalising problems; ADHD; family-based influences on child neurodevelopment and mental health (e.g., parenting, parent cognition; attachment; early adverse experiences), and child risk characteristics (e.g., temperament, emotion dysregulation, neurobiology).

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 personalising mental health care research. Here is a short list of current research projects: 

1. Personalising family-based interventions for child problems: This is pursued through examining child- and parent-level correlates of child problems relevant to predicting and moderating outcomes. Areas of research include studying associations between childhood problems and (i) temperamental traits like irritability, impulsivity, anxiety, and hypo-emotional arousal (ii) parenting and family processes (illness experience, parental attributions, expressed emotion), and (iii) social diversity.

2. Neurocognitive mechanisms underlying childhood mental disorders. This is pursued by employing cognitive neuroscience research methodology to understand subtypes of childhood mental health, in order to personalise treatment approaches according to notable neurodevelopmental characteristics of illness. We are doing some current work in understanding neurological mechanisms underlying the emergence of mental health problems (externalising/internalising) among children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

3. Role of irritability in depression, self-harm and suicidality among young people. Irritability is a common dimension of mental ill health and may explain comorbid problems of externalising and internalising problems. I am interested in cognitive and emotional regulatory processes associated with irritability implicated in mood, self-harm and suicidality, as well as family processes involved in these problems. We are evaluating a pilot trial of combined child and parent intervention for self-harm.

4. Patient activation and self-management of mental health. The focus is on understanding processes in help-seeking, accessing, and engagement in various forms of family-management, self-management and professional help. To this end, I am interested in decision-making processes informed by behavioural economics to understand how best to promote family- and self-management of mental health.

5. Population health approaches for common affective disorders ('right care, right time, right place'). This research proposes the adoption of population health-oriented service delivery models for treatment and prevention of depression. Recently, I have been focused on 'staged care' which proposes that universal personalised healthcare can help reduce the occurence and burden associated with affective disorders. Specific work includes building an evidence base for clinical staging for children and young people, stage-appropriate psychotherapy, stage-based stepped care, and workforce training in evidence-based practice and stage-based care.

View all 15 publications on Research Explorer