Members of ResNet have an opportunity to apply for pump priming funding for collaborative research. 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 throughout ResNet and across SPHR.
In the second round (2020), four projects were funded:
Title: Mapping the landscape of prenatal alcohol prevention in the UK: a collaborative review
Award holder: Cheryl McQuire
SPHR member: University of Bristol
Dates: October 2020- March 2022
Lay Summary: This project will collect and analyse information on activities that aim to prevent alcohol use during pregnancy in the UK. It will involve collaborating with the public and professionals from different backgrounds including health care workers, policy makers and people who work for charities.
We will also explore whether it is possible to analyse existing data to get new information on whether activities that aim to prevent alcohol use in pregnancy are effective. The results of this research will provide a detailed summary of what activities have been carried out in the UK to prevent drinking in pregnancy, how they work in practice, how they are perceived by those that use them, and whether they improve the health of mothers and their children. This evidence will help us to identify priorities for future research and public health activities.
Title: Exploring the longer-term impacts of Covid-19 on young people’s mental health and additional support required post-lockdown
Award holder: Emily Widnall
SPHR member: University of Bristol
Dates: September 2020- September 2021
Lay Summary: Since March 2020, the UK has been in lockdown in an effort to help slow the spread of Coronavirus. The lockdown has disrupted the lives and daily routines of everyone; however, the lockdown is likely to have a particular impact on young people with the closure of schools and disruption to social relationships. It is currently unknown what impacts this will have on the mental health and wellbeing of young people, and what can be done to provide support to them on their return to school. This project aims to understand the longer-term impacts of Covid-19 on adolescent mental health and wellbeing, self-harm, social connectivity, social media activity and whether there are particular groups of young people who have poorer mental health and wellbeing after lockdown. The study also aims to explore young people’s and school staff’s experiences of lockdown as well as their experiences returning to school after lockdown and what additional support is required to support students settle back into school and return to full time education. The project aims to share findings with schools and relevant mental health charities to help them to target help and support to those young people who need this. The study also hopes to identify what forms of social connection or types of social media activity may be helpful to young people when isolated from others.
Title: Exploring and understanding access to community-based mental health and addiction services for severe and multiple disadvantage service users and providers in Newcastle and Gateshead in times of extreme adversity
Award holder: Emma Adams
SPHR member: Fuse (Newcastle University)
Dates: September 2020- March 2022
Lay Summary: England has seen an increasing number of individuals who are homeless, have drug or alcohol problems, or are repeat offenders. Often occurring together, this combination of problems is called ‘severe and multiple disadvantages.’ Individuals with severe and multiple disadvantage experience poor mental and physical health alongside various forms of stigma. This results in negative experiences when accessing health services, such as mental health and addiction supports. The stigma and barriers to accessing mental health and addiction supports makes it harder for individual to get the required treatment. In times of crisis, access to health and social services often becomes more difficult. For individuals who already experience major challenges, times of uncertainty and poor service access can further complicate matters. This study aims to explore and understand access to community-based mental health and addiction services within Newcastle and Gateshead from the perspective of both severe and multiple disadvantage service users and providers. Collaborating with national and local charities, peer researchers will conduct interviews with service users and providers. Data will be iteratively analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis and thematic analysis. Findings will be interpreted in collaboration with peer researchers. Through providing a voice for frontline staff and an often-neglected service user population, this study will help inform the development of future strategies and responses by providers and policy makers. Furthermore, the findings will shed light on inequalities and barriers to access for community-based mental health and addiction supports.
Title: Local Resilience Forums and lessons from Covid-19 response: a pilot study
Award holder: Rebecca Mead
SPHR member: LiLaC (Lancaster University)
Dates: April 2021-March 2022
Lay Summary: This project aims to inform the development of larger study that will be the subject of a Fellowship application. The fellowship would explore the work of Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) during and following the CV19 pandemic. In particular how the work of LRF takes account of existing social and health inequalities. The objectives of the pilot study described in this funding application are to: 1) develop the networks to support my future fellowship bid; 2) conduct a scoping review of the most recent existing literature; 3) assess the feasibility of collecting relevant local documents (e.g. meeting minutes, plans or reports); 4) conduct interviews with key stakeholders; and 5) submit a proposal for a Post Doctoral Research Fellowship and disseminate key findings from the pilot study. Two LRFs have been selected for the pilot work; one with higher levels of deprivation and one with lower levels of deprivation providing a basis for comparison. In addition to supporting a fellowship bid, it is anticipated that the pilot study, though small scale will produce useful insights and outputs for the work of LRF.
In the first round (2019), three projects were funded:
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.