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Archive for the 'New Staff' Category

Community Navigator Study: Mental health service users wanted to join our working group

By Jake Fairnie, on 31 March 2016

Our new research study is looking for up to 5 people with personal experience of mental health problems to advise on developing and testing a programme of support for mental health service users which aims to increase people’s community connections and reduce loneliness.

Loneliness can affect people in all walks of life. A recent UK survey found that 28% of people wish they have more friends. Most public programmes, such as the Campaign to End Loneliness1, and most research on loneliness, has focused on older people. But there is growing evidence that loneliness has a range of harmful effects on health and quality of life for people of all ages. People with mental health problems report having less contact with family and friends than people in the general population do, and are particularly vulnerable to loneliness. Being lonely increases your chances of becoming depressed, and for people with mental health problems like depression and anxiety, also being lonely reduces your chances of a speedy recovery.

So finding ways to help people develop community connections may be a big help to improving people’s quality of life, and lead to a range of physical and mental health benefits. But this type of help is often not provided in mental health services, where staff time is limited and the focus can be more on medical or psychological treatments. There are a number of innovative projects happening across the country which may help people develop more connections. Community navigation projects help people review activities and places they enjoy, and people they like seeing, then support people in re-establishing social contacts or trying new things and meeting new people. But we lack good research evidence about how effective these projects are or how they may work best for people with different mental health conditions.

A research team from University College London and the McPin Foundation has secured funding from the School for Social Care Research (part of the National Institute for Health Research) for a Community Navigators research study. The study is led by Professor Sonia Johnson and Dr Brynmor Lloyd-Evans at UCL, and will work with mental health services in Camden, Islington and Barnet. Over a 2-year study, we will develop and test a programme of support for people with anxiety or depression using specialist mental health services, to help them increase their community connections and social contact, with the aim of helping to reduce loneliness. The support will be provided by paid Community Navigators. We will work to develop our programme with organisations that already provide this sort of help to people with mental health problems, such as the Wellbeing Enterprises group in Cheshire2. We will also consult people who have used mental health services and staff who work in them. We will see whether adding this support to people’s other ongoing care can be done in mental health services, whether we can evaluate it successfully, and whether it seems to be helpful for people.

The first stage of the study over the spring and summer 2016 will involve planning exactly what the Community Navigators support programme should consist of. We will set up a working group, which can help plan the programme, and stay involved throughout the study to monitor how it’s going and plan how best to evaluate it. The working group is using a co-production approach involving people with mental health problems, practitioners and researchers.  We would like to involve up to five people who have personal experience of mental health problems in this working group. At working group meetings, we will provide information about possible ways the programme of support could work, and hear from experts in other organisations. Working group members will then discuss different options for the programme, and make their own suggestions or recommendations. We have set dates for five initial meetings of the working group in Central London.

Tuesday 26th April 2-5pm

Tuesday 10th May 2-5pm

Tuesday 31st May 2-5pm

Tuesday 14th June 2-5pm

Tuesday 28th June 2-5pm

Lived experience working group members will be offered payment for their involvement on the project (at a rate of £15 per hour) and travel expenses will be paid. We welcome enquiries from anyone who has experienced mental health problems. We would particularly welcome input from people who have: experienced depression or anxiety; have used specialist mental health services; and have some previous experience of being an advisor on a research project, or have worked as a researcher themselves.

For an initial discussion and more information about joining the Community Navigators Study Working Group, please contact the study researcher:

Kate Fullarton

tel: 020 7679 9051 k.fullarton@ucl.ac.uk

Please contact Kate by Friday 15th April.

  1. Campaign to End Loneliness: www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/
  2. Wellbeing Enterprises: www.wellbeingenterprises.org.uk/

Division of Psychiatry welcomes Sergi Costafreda-Gonzales

By Kim Morgan, on 13 November 2014

“I am an Old Age Psychiatrist, recently appointed Senior lecturer in the division. My research interests are in dementia diagnosis and treatment, and particularly brain scanning. I will be working most closely with Gill Livingstone.”

INTERDEM Academy Fellowships – Update

By Kim Morgan, on 13 November 2014

The INTERDEM Academy enables fellowships for young researchers allowing them to spend 3-6 months abroad. The Promoting Independence in Dementia (PRIDE) programme, led by Professor Martin Orrell from the Division of Psychiatry at UCL, is a partner in the INTERDEM scheme.

We are delighted to announce that the very first of these fellowships has been granted to mr. Antonio García. A PhD student hailing from the University of Salamanca in Spain, he will stay with Prof. Orrell’s team at UCL for 4 months. Below you will find a short report of his experiences so far, giving an excellent example of what we seek to achieve through INTERDEM Academy: building capacity for young researchers in the field, and strengthening the PRIDE / INTERDEM network through joint projects.

“In these 72 days, I have experienced and learned far more things than those I had planned in my motivation letter for the INTERDEM Academy fellowship. I am based in the Division of Psychiatry of UCL, were I have been working with the PRIDE team to lead a literature review on Computer Based Cognitive Interventions for people with dementia that will be submitted by the end of my stay. The review will be useful for the design of PRIDE Work Package 3, and is linked to my thesis in cognitive rehabilitation.

I have also been trained in Cognitive Stimulation Therapy and Individual Stimulation Therapy, treatments developed by Professor Orrell’s team in UCL, and I have had the opportunity to share our Computer Based Cognitive Intervention Program (GRADIOR) developed at the University of Salamanca.

I have visited memory clinics in London and attended different courses and conferences that have helped me widen my scope of view in the field of dementia. Alzheimer Europe’s Conference in Glasgow was particularly enriching, as it made it possible for me to meet many INTERDEM members and participate in the Academy master class. It was also a great opportunity for networking, as a matter of fact; I am now planning a visit to another INTERDEM team while in the UK, hopefully finding new opportunities for learning and cooperation.”

Johan Thygsen joins Division of Psychiatry

By Kim Morgan, on 13 November 2014

We’re delighted to welcome Johan to UCL and as a new member of the team we hope he enjoys working here

“I am Danish and have recently moved to London, my background is in biology and genetics but I have also studied psychology. I am joining Elvira Bramon’s group as a research associate, working with Alvaro Revuelta, Stella Calafato and Siri Ranlund, towards identifying new genetic variants which increase the risk of developing severe mental illness and/or psychosis, using various types of biomarkers. My focusing will specifically be on identifying high-risk variants which run in families, as such variants offer a unique opportunity to untangle the biological mechanisms involved in the etiology of the disorders.”

Johan Thygsen, November 2014Johan_thygesen

Samira Heinkel joins Division of Psychiatry

By Kim Morgan, on 11 November 2014

A warm welcome to Samira Heinkel who has just started as PRIMROSE Trial coordinator.photo

Welcome to Antonio, Andrea and Alexsander

By Kim Morgan, on 10 November 2014

We’re very pleased to be joined by Alexsander Gumaraes, Andrea Loizeau and Antonio Garcia who have teamed up with the Promoting Independence in Dementia (PRIDE) programme as visiting researchers. Alexsander is studying at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Florianopolis, Southern Brazil, Antonio is a clinician and researcher at the University of Salamanca/SACYL and Andrea is visiting from the University of Zurich. We’re very much enjoying working with them, please say hello if you see them on the first floor of Charles Bell house.

(left to right) Alexsander, Andrea and Antonio

(left to right) Alexsander, Andrea and Antonio

Emese Csipke joins UCL from Kings

By Kim Morgan, on 10 June 2014

We are very pleased to welcome Dr Emese Csipke to the Division of Psychiatry from King’s College to join Martin Orrell’s Promoting Independence in Dementia (PRIDE) project as programme manager.Emese Csipke Portrait 1

Kim Morgan joins Division of Psychiatry

By Kim Morgan, on 10 June 2014

I’m very pleased to be joining the Division of Psychiatry at UCL. I will be working with Martin Orrell and his team on the ESRC-funded project Promoting Independence in Dementia (PRIDE) and very much look forward to being part of the programme. My previous role was marketing and communications with the School of Laws, Arts, Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences (SLASH), before that I worked in the department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering. 67856_10151176897587169_2109315745_n