9th Global Mental Health Research Capacity and Capability Programme with Refreshing Mind

15th to 24th April 2024, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cultivating Resilience: A Philosophical Exploration of the synergy between Training, Traveling, Learning and My Journey with PILL

I joined Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning on June 2nd, 2023, Peshawar office, as a Community Research Assistant. Being an experienced researcher and having a passion for evidence synthesis, I was promoted to the Department of Evidence Synthesis as a co-lead with Mr. Usman Arshad, who is also my supervisor. I have taken this responsibility seriously, and co-lead weekly Systematic Review meetings, write minutes and share them with team members.

The Transformative Power of Organization and Continual Learning:

Learning at PILL

Training on a weekly basis on different topics has helped in developing my capacity as a researcher. I am very thankful to Dr. Mujeeb Masud, from whom I learned how to make search strategies, and conduct meta-analysis. I am also indebted to Mr. Usman (Lead, Department of Evidence Synthesis), who has given me time to further improve.


As a result of the weekly systematic review meetings, I have developed leadership skills and learnt to manage 45 reviews, along with a team.

Skills Development

Along with co-leading the Evidence Synthesis department, I also lead data governance at the Peshawar office which involves entering data of different projects such as:CaPE, LTP PLUS DADS, Brave, and MBC into the Statistical Package of Social Science (SPSS) IBM version 29.0. Because of my enthusiasm towards being a statistician, and based on my work performance, data entry work of the Karachi office was also assigned to me. I am very thankful to Mr. Umair, Operational Manager, for his continuous support and guidance in achieving this goal.

The Enriching Experience of Travel and Cross-cultural Exchange

Selection for 9th GMH Training in UAE

Based on my progress and hard work, Prof. Nusrat selected me to attend the 9th Global Mental Health Capacity and Capability Program being held in the United Arab Emirates.

9th GMH Capacity and Capability Program, UAE

I was very excited about this training, as it was my first international trip. On Sunday, the 14th of April 2024 I from Islamabad Airport departure for Dubai. The flight was very exciting, When the Airblue flight reached Dubai Airport carrying the Islamabad and Peshawar team, we were welcomed, after which we left for the hotel where we were supposed to stay, and where the training was to be held.

Trainings Attended

Advance Photo voice Method Training for Master Trainers was attended, featuring Dr. Laura Lornez, Erica Belli, and Stephaine Lloyd as facilitators.

Grant Writing Retreat was also attended, led by Prof. Karina Lovell, Prof. Nasim Chaudhry, and Prof. Nusrat Hussain.

Consensus Method: Characteristics and Guidelines was another session attended, led by Dr. Maria Panagioti, Dr. Mantasha Taylor, and Dr. Tayyaba Kiran.

The session on Sleep, Trauma, and Anxiety Disorders was attended, featuring Dr. Jill McGary, Prof. Nasim Chaudhry, and Ms. Bushra Ali.

Lastly, the workshop on The Principles of Positive Psychology to deal with Multimorbidity was attended, facilitated by Prof. Jerome Carson and Dr. Chathurika Kannangaru.

All seeions of the training were very helpful in building our capacity as researchers. I got to spend time with mental health professionals and academics, exchanged ideas and networked with different professionals from developing countries, such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Kenya. This opportunity enhanced my knowledge of service development, teaching and training, and research capacity-building.

Training on Covidence and Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Research facilitated by me

It was very exciting. I delivered my first international training in Dubai on Data Screening, full article review, data extraction, and quality appraisal via the Covidence and usage of AI in health research.

Traveling and Exploring UAE

After training sessions, I was very enthusiastic to explore the UAE, so I travelled to Sharjah, Ajman, Deira, and Dubai. I also visited the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa; I went to see the Global Village Dubai, Dubai Aquarium, and Dubai Marine, where I enjoyed the ride on the Lotus Cruise ship.

Lessons Learned:

In my previous blog, Covidence “Leading with Passion: My Journey with Covidence as a Student Ambassador”, I wrote that certain qualities pave the way to success: It begins with having a clear heart and approaching each day with pure and sincere intentions. Adopting a disciplined routine of sleeping early sets the stage for productivity, andmorning exercise further invigorates both body and mind. A key aspect of learning is helping others selflessly, without any expectations.,, Being hard-working and consistent in our efforts is also crucial as it maintains self-motivation from within. It is important to focus solely on work, completing tasks on time, and managing time effectively. Being well organised and presenting ourselves creates a positive impression. Embracing a positive mindset and having a clear vision with well-defined goals allows us to plan purposefully and work towards them. By embodying these qualities, we can unlock the path to success.

Favorite Quote

“Faith – Unity – Discipline”

The synergy between training, traveling and personal growth

The 9th Global Mental Health Research Capacity and Capability Programme in Dubai, UAE, exemplifies the powerful synergy between training, travel, and personal growth. My journey highlights how these interconnected elements profoundly impacted my personal and professional growth, fostered resilience, and cultivated a holistic approach to well-being.

Training and Continual Learning

My experience at the Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL) underscores the transformative power of continual training and learning. Through weekly training sessions on diverse topics, I developed essential skills, leadership qualities, and the ability to manage complex systematic reviews within a team. This ongoing exposure to new knowledge and skill building has laid the foundation to my personal and professional growth.

Travel and Cross-Cultural Exchange

My selection for the 9th GMH program in Dubai presented an enriching opportunity for travel and cross-cultural exchange. This international exposure allowed me to broaden my horizons, embrace diversity, and gain invaluable insights from mental health professionals and academics in various developing countries. The experience of navigating a new environment and engaging with diverse perspectives fosters adaptability, empathy, and resilience, which are key elements of personal growth.

Integration of Acquired Knowledge and Lived Experiences

The training sessions in the 9th GMH program covered a wide range of topics, from advanced research methods to positive psychology and multimorbidity. By actively participating in these sessions and interacting with experts from different fields, I integrated the acquired knowledge with their lived experiences, facilitating personal transformation and a deeper understanding of my own strengths and areas for growth.

Contemplation and Introspection

Throughout the journey, I engaged in self-reflection and introspection, deriving profound insights from the interplay between training, travel, and personal experiences. This contemplation process allowed me to explore my own beliefs, values, and aspirations, contributing to a greater sense of self-awareness and personal growth.

Holistic Approach to Resilience

My experiences during the 9th GMH programme exemplified the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit in cultivating resilience. By embracing the synergy between intellectual growth, emotional intelligence, and experiential learning, I developed a holistic approach to building resilience, an essential component of mental well-being, and overall flourishing.


In essence, the 9th Global Mental Health Research Capacity and Capability Programme served as a powerful catalyst for my personal growth, highlighting the synergistic relationship between training, travel, and exploration of new horizons. By actively engaging in this transformative experience, I not only acquired new knowledge and skills, but also fostered resilience, adaptability, and a deeper understanding of knowledge.


I would like to express my profound gratitude to my parents and siblings, who consistently supported my aspirations, especially during the most challenging times.

My journey was significantly influenced by several mentors, who believed in my potential. I am immensely grateful to Professor Nusrat Husain, whose guidance and motivation introduced me to grant writing, evidence knowledge, and statistical analysis.

Dr. Mujeeb Masud Bhatti, whose guidance introduced me to the world of research, igniting my passion for academic pursuit. Ms. Razia Aliani for her support in my journey with Covidence.

Ms. Uzma, Dr. Tayyaba Kiran, Ms. Ayesha and Mr. Fahad for their continuous support and guidance. Finally, I would like to thank my supervisor, Mr. Usman (Lead Evidence Synthesis Department), and co-supervisor, Mr. Umair (Operational Manager PILL, Peshawar).


Written By

Bilal Ahmed Khan

Research Assistant