NIHR SPHR has set aside a development fund for early career researchers within the School for pump priming of ECR-led collaborative research, as part of the Researchers Network (ResNet). The purpose of this funding is to give ECRs in SPHR an opportunity to gain experience in developing and leading their own research project and to build their networks in ResNet and across SPHR. In the first round (2019), three projects were funded (approx. £30k each).
Title: Investigating the feasibility of delivering a resilience building programme to parents of secondary school children
Award holder: Dr David Troy
SPHR member: University of Bristol
Dates: January 2020 – January 2021
Lay summary: Depression is expected to be the highest global disease burden by 2030. Most mental health problems first appear in adolescence and young adulthood and the number of young people with such problems is increasing. Parental mental health and the home environment are factors in the development of adolescence mental health. Increasing resiliency in young people through skilled parenting may increase their ability to deal with negative life events and reduce mental health problems during adolescence and into later life. My project proposes to enrol parents of schoolchildren on a resilience building course for 6 weeks. The main aim of the project is to assess the feasibility of running an intensive resilience building course for parents to support their children’s mental health. I will interview parents after the course to document how they supported the mental health of their children before the course and how the course has changed their approach. The outcome of the project will be an assessment of whether it is feasible to deliver an after-school resilience building programme to parents. This is with a view to developing a larger study in the future which can assess if a programme like this can improve the resilience and mental health of young people.
Title: Social exclusion and mental health problems
Award holder: Dr Jennifer Dykxhoorn
SPHR member: UCL
Project dates: January 2020 – April 2021
Lay summary: Social exclusion is a term that has been used as a euphemism for poverty, however is linked to a broader meaning. Social exclusion is not simply a measure of low income, unemployment, low political engagement, and low levels of social interaction, but it also includes how decisions and power structures at the community or institutional level end up excluding individuals from opportunities due to discrimination or stigma. Because of these multiple meanings, social exclusion may be a powerful concept to describe the experience of individuals who have been excluded from opportunities or public spaces and further might be a useful tool to show how mental health problems may develop because of social exclusion.
The goals of this project are to investigate potential measures of social exclusion across England and see how these measures are related to mental health problems. We will be using a wide range of methods to explore this relationship, including showing how social exclusion is distributed in England. We will also investigate the experience of a migrant group facing sudden social exclusion (The Windrush generation) to see what impact this rapid change had on mental health outcomes. Finally, we will model what might happen if a public health intervention or policy was able to reduce the level of social exclusion in a community.
Title: Uptake and outcomes associated with Universal Infant Free School Meals in England
Award holder: Dr Kiara Chang
SPHR member: Imperial College London
Project dates: October 2019 – September 2020
Lay summary: Since September 2014 all children in Reception, year 1 and year 2 in state funded primary schools were offered a free lunch as part of a policy known as Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM). The previous free school meals policy was income based, meaning that not all children received one. Therefore, this extension that offers a free school meal to every child represents a major change to school food in England and has the potential to improve nutrition in children and narrow inequalities between groups of children. This project will use a range of publicly available data to examine the uptake of UIFSM among schools across the country, whether they are linked to improved nutrition, and whether they are linked to lowering the number of children who are underweight or overweight. We will use data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey and the Living Costs and Food Survey, which provide detailed data on food purchasing and eating to assess links to nutritional intake over time. We will use data from the Department for Education and Government funding data to assess how levels of funding are related to numbers of children in school using these meals, and we will use data from the National Child Measurement Programme to assess links to percentages of underweight and overweight children in Local Authorities. Together the findings will provide a comprehensive picture of the UIFSM policy and we will work with policy makers to communicate these findings and suggest ways forward.