New Director for UKZN’s Centre for Rural Health
Petersen was seconded to the School of Nursing and Public Health from the Discipline of Psychology at the School of Applied Human Sciences.
‘Plans for the Centre include working with the School and Discipline to build on the existing substantive body of work in rural health and expand the Centre into a fully-fledged research hub and centre of excellence in implementation science,’ said Petersen.
Petersen’s research work in the field of public mental health has many synergies with current research in the School of Nursing and Public Health.
For the past 20 years, her work has focused on how best to integrate mental health into primary health care as a means to close the treatment gap for mental disorders in South Africa. To further this, Petersen works in collaboration with two multinational research consortiums in lower middle income countries, including; Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, India and Nepal.
Petersen is also running two cluster pragmatic randomised control trials on integrating mental health into the integrated chronic disease platform in South Africa. She recently acquired funding from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in collaboration with the national Department of Health and ITECH linked to the University of Washington to scale up this work in North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
Durban-born Petersen is married with one daughter. For stress relief she runs with her dogs and also enjoys paddle skiing in her spare time - she loves the ocean. ‘Vacations are also very important for my mental health.’