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The latest cohort of Mental Health Science PhD students would love you to get involved with their research

November 24, 2023

Our involvement with the Mental Health Science PhD students began in October 2020. This distinctive PhD course, hosted at the UCL Institute of Mental Health, runs from 2020 to 2024, welcoming six students annually. The Wellcome Trust generously supports this PhD program, the first of its kind in the UK, with a funding of £5 million.

This year, we are working together with the third cohort of students in the programme. During the students' first year, we are facilitating a series of workshops, covering topics including the values of co-production, the importance of sharing power and responsibility, considerations of accessibility, and strategies for embedding meaningful co-production principles into their research projects. These sessions are designed to provide insight into the valuable benefits of involving people with lived and living experience into research projects, and to provide practical guidance on the implementation of co-production methodologies.

To support their PhD projects, the students are looking to involve people with lived or living experience of mental health challenges to join their thesis committee. The committees are made up of researchers, mental health practitioners, and people with lived experience (including family members and or carers of people with lived experience), who will support the student and their supervisor throughout the research project, continuing for three years. Committee members work with the students, assisting them by reading and reviewing their written reports, advising on their oral presentations, and offering constructive feedback and support on their projects. The committees meet between six to ten times during the project timeline, and their contributions, including their approved meeting reports, are recorded in the student's online Research Log.

There is payment available for each role, which is £25 per hour, and this will typically include up to one hour of preparation time for each of the meetings. In addition, there is £5 per meeting for internet costs and/or the course can supply dongles to help those without internet access. You do not have to claim these payments should you wish not to. The deadline for expressing interest in any of these roles is 17:00 on Tuesday 2 January 2024.

Keep on reading to meet the third cohort of Mental Health Science PhD students and learn more about their projects and how you can get involved!

Autism and self-harm

A picture of Erin, a PhD student with long hair in a black turtle neck jumper smiling in the camera.

Erin is a PhD student at UCL researching Mental Health. She is particularly interested in understanding the experiences of young people with autism who self-harm and the factors that may increase or reduce the risk of self-harm. Through literature review, interviews with young autistic people and parents, and statistical modelling, the study aims to improve understanding and inform strategies for preventing and intervening in self-harm among autistic youth.

She is looking to recruit two young people aged 16 to 25 or carers of young people aged 16-25 with a diagnosis of autism and a history of self-harm to advise on her research project.

Read more about this opportunity - deadline extended for this project only to 14 January 2024.

Childhood Trauma and Psychosis

Picture of Georgie, a PhD student with long hair wearing a black top in front of  flowery background.

Georgie is a PhD student at the Division of Psychiatry at UCL. She wants to understand how childhood trauma can cause psychosis. Also, she wants to improve mental healthcare for trauma survivors. She will analyse data and use statistics to see how childhood trauma affects adult psychosis symptoms.

She is looking to involve two people who have had psychosis or childhood trauma (or carers of people who have) to give advice for her research.

Read more about this opportunity.

Investigating mental health of sexual and gender minority young people

Merle, a PhD student with brown curly hair wearing a purple top smiling at the camera with one hand holding their face.

Merle is a PhD student at UCL looking at the mental health inequality experienced by sexual and gender minority young people in the UK. As she identify as bisexual herself, she is particularly passionate about this issue. Specifically, she is interested in how the overlap between different socio-demographic characteristics (such as ethnicity and socio-economic status) among sexual and gender minority young people and the areas where those young people grow up impact the chances of experiencing mental health problems.

She is looking to involve up to five people in her project for two roles: thesis committee members and advisory group members. For each role she is looking for people who are aged between 16 to 25 years or carers of people aged 16-25 years, who identify as a sexual minority and/or gender minority (including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, queer, trans, and/or non-binary people), and have lived experiences of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and/or self-harm.

Read more about this opportunity.

What do different treatments do?

Quentin, a PhD student wearing a white jumper smiling in the camera in front of a trees

Quentin is a PhD student at UCL. He is interested in how treatments for symptoms of mental ill-health alter learning and decision-making, and whether we can use this insight to better predict what treatments might work for different people. The focus of his PhD will be on some of the most common treatments for symptoms such as low mood and anxiety. Many of these treatments, including antidepressant drugs and talking therapies, are thought to alter perceptual and learning processes that are biased in mental ill-health. He hopes to identify more specific similarities – and differences – between various types of treatments.

He is looking for adults (18 and over) or carers of adults who have tried two or more different types of treatment (ideally including at least one antidepressant drug) for symptoms of mood disorders, such as low mood and anxiety. These treatments could include antidepressants of any type (e.g., SSRIs, SNRIs), and/or psychological therapies such as CBT, psychodynamic therapy, or ACT.

Read more about this opportunity.

Timing effects in mental health

Sarah, a PhD student with long curly brown hair wearing a green jumper smiling in the camera in front of a brick wall

Sarah is a PhD student at UCL. She is interested in the impact and the timing of childhood adversity on mental health. She will explore the impact of timing effects on mental health by looking at different experiences, both positive and negative, on mental health outcomes. She aims to answer the following question: Are there timing effects in mental health and if so, how do they manifest? Her first study will investigate the timing of experiencing bullying victimization across childhood using a novel method called structured life course modelling approach. By better understanding the timing effects of exposures to adversity, we can optimize when and for how long to intervene during psychological interventions to promote mental health.

She is looking to recruit two individuals, one between the ages of 16 and 25, and one above the age of 30 or carers of people of these ages who have experienced childhood adversity (for example, bullying, maltreatment, witnessing domestic violence, or other forms) and/or have an interest in the impact of negative events and positive events on mental health across the life course.

Read more about this opportunity.

The impact of social media on mental health

Tom, a PhD student earing a black coat, smiling in the camera with a sunset in the background

Tom is a PhD student in the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at UCL. The department runs a number of research studies that follow tens of thousands of people across the UK throughout their lifetimes, collecting data about their health, finances, employment etc. He is interested in the influences that social media might have on the mental health of young people. In his PhD project, he will be using data collected from large samples from the UK population to provide more evidence about the relationships between social media use and mental health.

Tom is looking to involve people aged 16-27 years or carers of people aged 16-27 years who use social media on a regular basis and has lived experience of psychological distress (with or without an underlying diagnosed mental health condition).

Read more about this opportunity.

If you would like to know more about Co-Production Collective, have any questions about the PhD projects, or have trouble accessing the documents, please get in touch with us.

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