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Dr Maya Semrau


Dr Maya Semrau (PhD, MSc, MSc, BSc)

Research Fellow in Implementation Research
T: +44 (0)1273 872788
Location: Ground Floor, BSMS Medical Research Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9PX

Area of expertise: global mental health, implementation research, stigma, psychometric scale development 

Research areas: implementation research study on integrating and scaling up a physical and psychosocial care package for podoconiosis in Ethiopia; mental health systems strengthening; reduction of mental-health-related stigma and discrimination; assessment of needs in humanitarian emergency settings



Maya has been working in the global mental health field since 2008, when she started her PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London (in collaboration with the World Health Organization), developing a scale – the HESPER Scale – to assess the perceived needs of populations affected by humanitarian emergencies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Since then, she has worked as scientific coordinator on the Emerald programme, which aimed to strengthen mental health systems in six LMICs in Africa and Asia; on a project by the ‘International Dementia Alliance’ (IDEAL) group, developing an international staging schedule for dementia; and on a study as part of the INDIGO Network to improve mental health referral rates and reduce mental-health-related stigma and discrimination through a local public knowledge and awareness-raising campaign. She has an MSc in Mental Health Service and Population Research (IoPPN), an MSc in Experimental Psychology (University of Sussex), and a BSc Honours in Human Sciences (University of Sussex).  

Maya joined the Global Health and Infection Department at BSMS in November 2017 as research fellow in implementation research as part of the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Neglected Tropical Diseases.


Maya currently works at BSMS on an implementation research study to integrate and scale-up a holistic care package involving physical and psychosocial interventions for people with podoconiosis in Ethiopia. The study is being conducted by the ‘Excellence in Disability Prevention Integrated across Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (EnDPoINT) Consortium, as part of the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Neglected Tropical Diseases at BSMS.



Maya has experience of supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students both at BSMS and the IoPPN, King’s College London. She has co-led and taught several modules of the Global Mental Health MSc at the IoPPN, as well as having taught as part of the Global Mental Health Summer School at the IoPPN and the Global Health short course at St. Mary’s, Imperial College London.

Selected publications

Semrau M, Alem A, Abdulmalik J, Docrat S, Evans-Lacko S, Gureje O, Kigozi F, Lempp H, Lund C, Petersen I, Shidhaye R, Thornicroft G, Hanlon C. Developing capacity-building activities for mental health system strengthening in low- and middle-income countries for service users and caregivers, service planners and researchers. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences. 2017, DOI:

Semrau M, Lempp H, Keynejad R, Evans-Lacko S, Mugisha J, Raja S, Lamichhane J, Alem A, Thornicroft G, Hanlon C. Service user and caregiver involvement in mental health system strengthening in low- and middle-income countries: systematic review. BMC Health Services Research. 2016, 16:79. doi: 10.1186/s12913-016-1323-8

Keynejad R, Semrau M, Toynbee M, Evans-Lacko S, Lund C, Gureje O, Ndyanabangi S, Courtin E, Abdulmalik JA, Alem A, Fekadu A, Thornicroft G, Hanlon C. Building the capacity of policy-makers and planners to strengthen mental health systems in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review. BMC Health Services Research. 2016; 16:601

Semrau M, Evans-Lacko S, Alem A, Ayuso-Mateos JL, Chisholm D, Gureje O, Hanlon C, Jordans M, Kigozi F, Lempp H, Lund C, Petersen I, Shidhaye R, Thornicroft G. Strengthening mental health systems in low and middle-income countries: the Emerald programme. BMC Medicine. 2015; 13: 79

Semrau M, Evans-Lacko S, Koschorke M, Ashenafi L, Thornicroft G. Stigma and discrimination related to mental illness in low and middle income countries. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences. 2015; 24(5): 382-394

Semrau M, Burns A, Djukic-Dejanovic S, Eraslan D, Han C, Lecic-Tosevski, D, Lobo A, Mihai A, Morris J, Palumbo C, Robert P, Stiens G, Stoppe G, Volpe U, Rikkert MO, Sartorius N, International Dementia Alliance (IDEAL) Study Group. Development of an international schedule for the assessment and staging of care for dementia. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2015; 44(1):139-151

Semrau M, van Ommeren M, Blagescu M, Griekspoor A, Howard LM, Jordans M, Lempp H, Marini A, Pedersen J, Pilotte I, Slade M, Thornicroft G. The development and psychometric properties of the Humanitarian Emergency Settings Perceived Needs (HESPER) Scale. American Journal of Public Health. 2012; 102(10):e55-63

Jordans M, Semrau M (joint first authors), Thornicroft G, van Ommeren M. Role of current perceived needs in explaining the association between trauma exposure and distress in humanitarian settings in Jordan and Nepal. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2012; 201(4):276-281

Eaton J, McCay L, Semrau M, Chatterjee S, Baingana F, Araya R, Ntulo C, Thornicroft G, Saxena S. Scale up services for mental health in low-income and middle-income countries. The Lancet. 2011; 378(9802):1592-1603

Semrau M, Barley EA, Law A, Thornicroft G. Lessons learned in developing community mental health care in Europe. World Psychiatry. 2011; 10(3):217-225 

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