What are your main research interests?
My main research interests are in young people’s mental health and social media. I am interested in investigating the impact of social media on young people’s mental health over time, social media addiction and interventions for social media addiction. I am currently exploring how young people’s concerns about social media, and its impact on their mental health, are addressed by healthcare professionals. I am also focusing on some of the benefits of social media, such as helping young people to access mental health services
Can you tell me about your work with the NIHR School for Public Health Research?
I have been doing an NIHR SPHR post-doctoral launching fellow for the past two years. Part of my work has been building my CV to enable me to apply for future funding, so I have spent a lot of time publishing my previous PhD studies and other work. I also undertook a three-month public health practice placement in a local authority mental health team in South Gloucestershire, which helped me to understand how research feeds into practice. I have also been building my skills in complex data analysis and learned how to undertake longitudinal data analysis. I am currently finishing up a project that I undertook using the Understanding Society dataset to explore the causal relationship between social media and mental health in young people. In particular, I have been exploring the role of mediating factors, such as low self-esteem, that might explain the relationship between social media and mental health.
What impact will this research have?
The research I have been doing has utilised longitudinal data, which will enhance our understanding of the causal relationship between social media and mental health for young people, as currently there is little information on this. Being able to understand this relationship more clearly will help researchers and clinicians to develop more appropriate interventions to help young people.
What made you choose a pathway in public health research?
I think the main reason I chose this career is because you can have a positive impact on people’s health. It is so rewarding and motivating to be doing research that seeks to understand the major public health issues and why they occur because the more we understand the more we can begin to address these issues. I also really value that public health research focuses on understanding inequalities and social injustices, as these factors play such a key role in determining our health. I also chose this career because of the people I have met along the way, who are so passionate about public health research and have been so supportive in helping me to develop a career in this field.
What has been the highlight of your research career?
The highlight of my research career so far has been undertaking this SPHR fellowship. I am so grateful for this fellowship because it really allowed me to develop my research CV and skills. As a result of this fellowship, I was able to publish papers, undertake a placement, complete lots of training and explore my own research ideas. This put me in fantastic position to apply for further funding for my own research project further exploring social media and mental health and I was awarded an NIHR Three Schools’ Mental Health Programme post-doctoral fellowship starting in March 2022.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career or involvement in public health research?
I would suggest talking to as many people as you can about public health research so you understand what your career might be like and to help build a good support network if you decide to pursue it. I would also say it is helpful to think carefully about the specific topics/areas of research within public health research you are most passionate about or enjoy talking about to help maintain your motivation.