This blog by Katherine Parkin is part of the Public mental health newsletter
Loving my PhD and excited for what’s next…
Before the PhD
Prior to my PhD with Cambridge Public Health (University of Cambridge), I completed an undergraduate degree in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. I then worked for the NHS for four and a half years, initially for a mental health crisis support line and then as an Assistant Psychologist in an adult secondary care community mental health team. This is where my interest in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their impact on mental health developed and led to me pursuing a PhD in this area.
My project title is: Making evidence-informed resource decisions: using an understanding of the prevalence and impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to target mental health resources.
What is the problem and how does my PhD seek to address it?
ACEs are really common. They are also associated with poor mental health outcomes for many (but not all) young people. Early intervention is often more effective than treatment later on, but the problem is mental health resources are very limited. I want to know if we can better target these limited resources by understanding childhood adversity in the population, and what early interventions support young people’s mental health.
My PhD is made up of three studies:
- A Delphi survey to develop a framework of risk factors (including ACEs) for young people’s mental health problems (project funded by MRC Adolescent Engagement Awards).
- Measurement of ACEs in the SAIL Databank (a databank of routinely-collected, anonymised, linked data relating to the population of Wales, UK) [project co-funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).
- An umbrella review of early interventions to help the mental health of young people who have experienced ACEs.
In the two videos, I discuss my PhD project. My PhD was co-funded by SPHR (School for Public Health Research) and ARC EoE (Applied Research Collaboration East of England), both part of the NIHR (National Institute of Health and Care Research). The first video (2.33 minutes) gives a brief overview of my whole PhD and the second video (3.00 minutes) provides more detail on studies 1 and 2.
Next steps post-PhD
Rather than staying in academia, my intention was always to work in behavioural science, doing a mix of research and policy work, once I had finished my PhD. I feel my PhD has given me brilliant experience in running research projects and considering how these fit into current health and care systems, and I am keen to put this experience to use outside of academia.
As my PhD comes to an end, I am going to work as an Analyst for Nesta on ‘A Healthy Life’ project. This project seeks to help more people live a healthy life for longer, and the role involves a combination of research and policy practice.
Connect with me
For more detail on my work or to connect, please visit my ResearchGate profile.