Rahman is a clinical academic, spearheading the Institute’s programme in Global Mental Health, with multiple international projects in the areas of perinatal, infant, child and adolescent mental health, largely in low- and middle-income countries.
His early work, supported by successive Wellcome Trust Training and Career Development Fellowships in Tropical Medicine, focused on epidemiology and interventions for perinatal depression in low and middle income countries. His research was one of the first to demonstrate a strong and independent association between maternal mental health and child physical development. He has since pioneered task- shifting approaches for mental health (non-specialists delivering simplified but effective psychotherapies under supervision of specialists). His innovative intervention, the Thinking Healthy Programme, was the first psychological intervention to be adopted by the WHO for global dissemination. In the last decade, Rahman has worked closely with WHO to develop and evaluate similar interventions for mental health including early child development, developmental disorders, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress, conducting over a dozen major RCTs in South Asia and sub Saharan Africa. This body of work has established him as a global leader in this area.
In the last 5 years, Rahman has focused on implementation research for the scale-up of these interventions. This work has been funded by the Wellcome Trust (UK), MRC (UK), NIH (USA), Grand Challenges Canada, and the WHO. He has led two NIH funded Collaborative Hubs for Research in International Mental Health (U19 awards) – SHARE in South Asia and SHINE in the Middle-East, successfully working with over 15 LMIC partner institutions. With colleagues in Pakistan he has pioneered the use of technology to assist training, supervision and delivery of psychological interventions through non-specialists.
He has written extensively on strategies to integrate mental health into policy and public health. He is a WHO expert advisor on the development of regional policy for mental health in the Eastern Mediterranean region and member of WHO’s mental health Guidelines Development Group. He is a visiting Professor at several academic institutions in Pakistan and an advisor to Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health Services, assisting to shape the country’s national policy on mental health.