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UCL Division of Psychiatry Scholarships 2019

rejusjo13 August 2019

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We are very pleased  to announce that we can offer a small number of Division of Psychiatry Scholarships to contribute towards fees for the MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research, the MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences Research or the MSc in Dementia Causes, Treatment and Research (Mental Health), beginning in 2019-20.

We aim to award these scholarships to the applicants who appear most promising as future researchers in mental health. The scholarships will be worth up to £3,000.  Part-time or flexible students entering the second year of the course are also eligible, and can apply for a further award if successful last year (amounts are likely to be smaller for part-timers). Names of award-winners will be announced on our website. To be considered for these scholarships, please apply for a Division of Psychiatry MSc if you have not done so already (the MSc Clinical Mental Health Sciences is closed, so that you are required already to be an offer holder on this course), and please also send to Mrs Chris Coup, MSc Course Administrator at c.coup@ucl.ac.uk, a 500 word statement summarising:

(a) your research achievements so far;

(b) how you envisage research being part of your future career;

(c) what topic in mental health you would like to research in future, why, and how you would approach it.

Awards will be made on the basis of these statements and your application forms for the MSc.

For continuing students entering the second year and beyond, achievements so far on the MSc can also be taken into account.

Applications need to be received by  the end of 31 August 2019. Those holding offers for the MSc Clinical Mental Health Sciences, offer holders or applicants for the MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research and the MSc Dementia Causes, Treatment and Research (Mental Health), and continuing students on any programme can be considered.

Further details of our MScs:

MSc Mental Health Sciences Research

MSc Clinical Mental Health Sciences

MSc Dementia Causes, Treatment and Research (Mental Health)

MSc Scholarships for North London clinical staff – 2019

rejusjo14 July 2019

High Flyers - Prabhu B Doss (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kshathriya/2617686791/in/photostream/)

High Flyers – Prabhu B Doss (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kshathriya/2617686791/in/photostream/)

Noclor Research Support Service announces scholarships of between 20% and 50% total part time fees to support clinical staff in North London Trusts to undertake the UCL MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research commencing at the end of September 2019. Awards can be used in combination with other scholarships or study leave funding. The course provides a practical and stimulating training in research skills, appropriate for mental health professionals with a strong interest in becoming researchers/academic clinicians.

These scholarships are open only to staff working within the following affiliated Noclor Trusts:

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust
Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
East London NHS Foundation Trust
Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust
West London Mental Health Trust

 

Scholarships are especially intended for clinicians, but applications from staff without clinical qualifications who have worked in the Trusts for at least two years will also be considered. Trainees who are qualified clinicians, such as junior psychiatrists on rotation, will also be considered. Service users undertaking paid roles such as peer support workers are also encouraged to apply.

To be considered, please apply for the MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research at UCL and please also send to Mrs Chris Coup, MSc Course Administrator at c.coup@ucl.ac.uk, a CV of a maximum of 2 pages summarising your relevant achievements, especially related to research, and a 500 word statement summarising:
(a) how you envisage research being part of your future career;
(b) what topic in mental health you would like to research in future, why, and how you would approach it.

Awards will be made on this basis to both new and continuing students.

Deadline: 31 August 2019

UCL MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research

Noclor Research Support Service

Scholarships for Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust staff for research MSc study

rejusjo13 July 2019

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust announces scholarships of between 20% and 50% total part time fees to support clinical staff in North London Trusts to undertake the UCL MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research based in the UCL Division of Psychiatry, commencing at the end of September 2019. Awards can be used in combination with other scholarships or study leave funding. The course provides a practical and stimulating training in research skills, appropriate for mental health professionals with a strong interest in becoming researchers/academic clinicians.

These scholarships are open only to staff currently working within Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. Scholarships are especially intended for clinicians, but applications from staff without clinical qualifications who have worked in the Trusts for at least two years will also be considered. Trainees who are qualified clinicians, such as junior psychiatrists on rotation, will also be considered. Service users undertaking paid roles such as peer support workers are also encouraged to apply.

To be considered, please apply for the MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research at UCL and please also send to Mrs Chris Coup, MSc Course Administrator at c.coup@ucl.ac.uk, a CV of a maximum of 2 pages summarising your relevant achievements, especially related to research, and a 500 word statement summarising:
(a) how you envisage research being part of your future career;

(b) what topic in mental health you would like to research in future, why, and how you would approach it.

Awards will be made on this basis to both new and continuing students.

Deadline: 31 August 2019

UCL MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research

Blog for International Fathers’ Mental Health Day

rejusjo17 June 2019

But what about us? Fathers’ experiences of perinatal mental health care

Billie Lever Taylor & Sonia Johnson

Posted on International Fathers’ Mental Health Day – June 17th 2019 

“All the help and people just looked at Nadia*. They’ve not looked at me. I mean, not asked ‘Oh how are you feeling?’ And stuff. Nothing. It’s just all Nadia.”

When Adam’s partner Nadia was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis shortly after their baby was born, Adam found himself caught up in the crisis. He wanted help himself – and wanted to know how best he could help Nadia. But like many fathers in our research on experiences of perinatal (during and after pregnancy) mental health care, he felt excluded. “I would have liked to have come to the first meeting when she first met [her care coordinator] and then they could say ‘Right, I’m so and so. This is what I do. This is what I’ve studied…This is the plan, what I’m going to do with Nadia.”

There is increasing recognition that healthcare professionals supporting women with mental health difficulties in the perinatal period need to ‘think family’: fathers both affect and are affected by mothers’ perinatal mental health. Also, mental health difficulties among fathers as well as mothers are linked to emotional and behavioural problems in children, particularly where parents experience relationship conflict.

Our research, led from UCL, suggests that – in the UK and internationally – partners, fathers and wider families feel marginalised by services treating perinatal mental health difficulties. Our findings are based on in-depth interviews with over 50 mothers across England, who received NHS support for a perinatal mental health difficulty. These interviews were carried out in the Stacey study, which was part of a bigger investigation of care for mothers with mental health problems called the ESMI programme.  We also spoke to over 30 of their partners (including same-sex partners) or other family members (for example, where mothers did not have a partner). And we reviewed international research on the topic. We focus here on fathers, who were the biggest group of family members we spoke to.

We found that, even though it was the mothers who had been diagnosed with perinatal mental health problems, their difficulties often arose within a fraught interpersonal and social context. Often, the whole family was struggling. Fathers could play an important role in supporting mothers – and encouraging or sometimes discouraging them from seeking help. But, despite their importance, fathers were not routinely included in appointments. There was little acknowledgement of their needs or support for them – either to help them support the mother, or to help with their own struggles.

Although healthcare professionals were seen as dedicated and hardworking, services were structured in ways that excluded fathers. For example, many only offered appointments during working hours, making it difficult for fathers to attend. Professionals did not always have the resources or skills to work with families – and sometimes struggled to include fathers, while still protecting the needs of mothers and babies.

Inpatient mother and baby units were described as better than other services at including and supporting fathers. But admissions separated mothers and babies from fathers (and wider family networks) without always recognising the impact of this or offering help to cope with it. Fathers could also find themselves with older children to look after on their own and juggling multiple demands.

We found that both mothers and fathers had anxieties about the impact of more involvement and support for fathers. Complex and sometimes delicate family situations could mean that some mothers did not want their partners involved. For fathers, views of masculinity made it hard for them to acknowledge their needs or ask for support. This also played a role in professionals excluding fathers – which could then further encourage fathers to see their own needs as insignificant.

It seems likely that the exclusion of fathers is linked partly to wider assumptions about motherhood and fatherhood. Western cultures increasingly recognise more diverse family set-ups and there have been drives towards greater gender equality. But even so, mothers and mother-infant bonds are still seen as most important for child development, with fathers seen as secondary. Mothers are expected to be natural nurturers and to bear most responsibility for the developing infant. Fathers are increasingly expected to be more hands-on with their infants but find there are obstacles to this in practice. Dealing with these expectations, along with other challenges in the perinatal period, can play a role in causing perinatal distress.

But instead of addressing perinatal mental health difficulties within this wider context, services appear to let cultural norms shape their practice. Perinatal distress is often treated as a problem of the mother’s mind. Treatments focus on individual mothers or mother-infant bonds. Fathers – and the couple relationship – are neglected. This in some ways reinforces traditional gender roles and diverts attention from the need for wider change.

Services need to find ways to overcome barriers to family inclusion and to challenge gender norms and expectations. This applies not only to mental health services but, for example, to maternity services too, where fathers also report feeling excluded. Broader community and social responses to perinatal distress are needed. This is not straightforward, particularly in the context of stretched resources. It could include supporting policies that lessen economic pressures on families; facilitate the uptake of shared parental leave; ensure fair and timely access to welfare; and address gender inequality and attitudes.

Changes to current care could include, for example: identifying acceptable ways to include fathers in appointments; routinely asking mothers how they would like their partners to be involved; offering opportunities for fathers to speak to professionals separately; providing childcare or crèches to enable fathers to attend appointments with mothers; offering flexible appointment times outside working hours; exploring the feasibility of allowing fathers to stay overnight on mother and baby units; and perhaps also seeking to recruit more male staff within services.

There would also seem to be value in developing and evaluating resources and interventions aimed at fathers and couples. As Adam says, “They never think of the other partner…Sometimes I think for **** sake, I need some help as well here. You know what I mean?”

*All names have been changed.

This post summarises independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its PGfAR Programme (Grant Reference Number RP-PG-1210-12002). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. The study team acknowledges the study delivery support given by the local Clinical Research Networks.

Billie Lever Taylor is a clinical psychologist and researcher at UCL, specialising in perinatal mental health and parent-infant relationships.

Sonia Johnson is professor of social and community psychiatry at UCL, and consultant psychiatrist at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. She is also director of the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit for England.

This post summarises independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its PGfAR Programme (Grant Reference Number RP-PG-1210-12002, Chief Investigator Prof Louise Howard, Section for Women’s Mental Health, King’s College London). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. The study team acknowledges the study delivery support given by the local Clinical Research Networks.

Billie Lever Taylor is a clinical psychologist and researcher at UCL, specialising in perinatal mental health and parent-infant relationships. Contact her billie.tayor@ucl.ac.uk for more details about our work. 

Sonia Johnson is professor of social and community psychiatry at UCL, and consultant psychiatrist at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. She is also director of the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit for England.

UCL Psychiatry Post-graduate Open Evening 20th March

rejusjo25 February 2019

UCL Division of Psychiatry Post-graduate Open Evening

Wednesday March 20th 530pm-7pm

All who are interested in our MSc programmes or in PhD study in the Division of Psychiatry are warmly invited to attend our Open Evening on Wednesday 20th March. There will be brief talks from key members of staff and a chance to chat over drinks to staff and current and former students. Programmes covered include the MSc Clinical Mental Health Sciences, MSc Mental Health Sciences Research and MSc Dementia: Causes, Treatment and Research (Mental Health).

Location: Room 221, Bentham House, 4–8 Endsleigh Gardens, London WC1H 0EG

This is very close to Euston and Euston Square stations: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/bentham-house

Please register your interest in attending with Chris Coup – c.coup@ucl.ac.uk. 

 

Sonia Johnson’s keynote at the MQ Mental Health Scientific Meeting, London, February 2019

rejusjo7 February 2019

Sonia Johnson was honoured to be invited by mental health research charity MQ to give the opening keynote at their 2019 Scientific Meeting in London.  She proposed a new set of research priorities for seeking to improve the lives and outcomes of people with severe mental health problems such as psychosis and bipolar. Here to allow access for those interested are the slides from this presentation. How can we improve the lives and outcomes of people with severe mental health problems?

Wellcome Trust funding for UCL Division of Psychiatry Qualitative Researchers Working Group seminars and symposium

Jake Fairnie23 December 2017

On behalf of the UCL Qualitative Health Research Network, we are delighted to announce that the Wellcome Trust is funding our next 18-month programme of seminars and our 4th biennial symposium.  This programme, entitled “Crafting qualitative health research for the future,” is on the broad theme of “change” and will interrogate the conceptual and methodological problems it poses to qualitative approaches in health research.  We are especially interested in exploring the roles that qualitative researchers can take in supporting healthcare communities to anticipate and negotiate the social consequences of changing populations, global austerity, rapid technological advances, personalised medicine, and on-going demands for more patient involvement as well as the related tensions between in-depth qualitative work and timely dissemination of findings.  We look forward to engaging in this exciting programme of work.  For updates please see our Qualitative Researchers Working Group page and visit QHRN.

Community Navigator study: latest developments

uctvtst13 November 2017

We may not have blogged for a while, but we’ve been making a lot of progress on the Community Navigator study! Here are some of the highlights:

  1. We started recruiting people to take part in the study in April 2017 and hit our target of recruiting forty people in August 2017. The 30 participants who were assigned to receive the programme of support have begun to meet with their Community Navigators for 1:1 sessions and at the optional group meet-ups.
  2. We’ve begun running the meet-up groups. The idea behind the meet-ups is to provide opportunities for our participants to meet each other, discuss the programme’s aims and their own progress, and share information about local groups, activities and services that they have a positive experience of. The first group for our Camden & Islington (C&I) participants took place at the beginning of August and the one for our Barnet participants took place at mid-September.
  3. We’ve published the study protocol in the journal BMC Trials and you can take a look here: https://trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13063-017-2226-7
  4. Members of the study team attended the European Network of Mental Health Service Evaluation (ENMESH Conference) in the Netherlands. At the conference we presented our work on coproducing a Theory of Change for the project and it won a Best Poster Award!
  5. Follow-up Interviews and Qualitative data collection have begun and will continue until early next year.

If you want to know more, then keep reading below!

Outline of Meet-up Groups

War barnetBoth of our meet-ups followed a flexible agenda, which was co-produced by the Community Navigators and the study’s working group that is made up of researchers, experts by experience and clinicians. The meet-ups started with introductions and an icebreaker activity, in which people looked at photographs of places around their borough and tried to guess where they were. This activity was particularly successful in initiating discussion and giving people a chance to get to know one another. The icebreaker was followed by a short break for refreshments and a chance to mingle.

What was next? The Groups 4 Health quiz! Clients and Community Navigators completed a Groups 4 Health exercise that G4H-Logo-Purple-Largeinvolves ranking factors according to how important they are for our health. Once people ranked the factors, the Community Navigators showed them a graph of the general public’s rankings when asked the same question, and then showed participants another graph, which shows the real importance of each of these factors, based on the latest research. Contrary to what most people assume, social support and social integration are actually the most important factors for health in this list. People were really interested to hear each other’s ratings and a vigorous discussion followed about which factors are important and why. Each of the meet-ups came to an end after about two hours.

Reflections on Meet-up Groups

Attendees from both groups provided very positive feedback, and found the groups helpful and enjoyable. A second group has been planned in C&I for November 2017, and in Barnet for January 2018. We were very pleased that, following the group meetings, some of the participants have made connections and arranged to meet up together, or arranged a future Community Navigator session together with another participant.

Poster Prize

posterA poster designed by Vanessa Pinfold (Study co-applicant, McPin Foundation) about the theory of change behind the Community Navigator programme won the best poster award at the ENMESH conference in the Netherlands. The topic of the conference was “Conceptualising, measuring and influencing context in mental health care: from the individual to the society”, and took place on October 5, 6 & 7, 2017.  We won the poster prize for Theme 3: Approaches – using the patient’s own context, which was 250 euros. Our poster showed our current version theory of change (Version 18!), and celebrated that we had involved researchers, service users, and clinicians in the process.

 

Trial protocol paper

The final phase of the Community Navigator study is a feasibility trial. We will use this to further test and refine the Community Navigator programme of support, and check that recruiting and retaining people to take part in a randomised trial of the intervention can be achieved. The trial protocol, which sets out how we will run the trial, was registered in advance, and has now been published in BMC Trials. It is available here: https://trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13063-017-2226-7

 

You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter or get in touch with Dora by emailing theodora.stefanidou.15@ucl.ac.uk. You can also find out more about the study on our main webpage, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/research/epidemiology/community-navigator-study/.

Forthcoming Nature Paper

Noorjaben B Monowari25 November 2016

171116 NatureCover

In a new systematic review featured on the front cover of Nature and amidst a rapidly changing global political landscape owing to legalization, the availability of synthetic analogues (commonly termed spice), cannavaping and an emphasis on the purported therapeutic effects of cannabis,  Dr Bloomfield and colleagues review the complex effects of THC, the main ingredient in cannabis, on the brain’s reward system. They describe the ways in which these may alter brain function to increase the risk of mental health problems.  Owing to the complexity of the cannabinoid-dopamine interactions that take place, there is conflicting evidence from human and animal studies concerning the effects of THC on the dopamine system. Acute THC administration causes increased dopamine release and neuron activity, whereas long-term use is associated with blunting of the dopamine system.  and provide a framework for future pharmacology research  they argue must examine the long-term and developmental dopaminergic effects of THC.

Intracerebral haemorrhage in Down syndrome: protected or predisposed?

rejutal30 June 2016

Lewis Buss, now in the final stages of his medical training joined Dr André Strydom and the LonDownS Consortium to investigate the prevalence of intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) in people with Down syndrome.

ICH in Down syndrome is an interesting phenomenon: Down syndrome is nearly always caused by a triplication (rather than the usual 2 copies) of chromosome 21. The chromosome contains a gene called amyloid precursor protein (APP) which drives amyloid beta production. People with Down syndrome are extremely prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease and a big part of this is thought to be due to a higher dosage of APP. Amyloid fragments aggregate in functional tissue in the brain (the characteristic plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease) but also in the cerebral microvasculature. It is this vascular amyloidosis that is associated with ICH.

In the review, Lewis and his colleagues describe how although people with Down syndrome are at increased risk of ICH, this risk is not so great as in people who have three copies of APP (dup-APP) but not of other genes on the chromosome. The most interesting part of this paper comes during their exploration of pathophysiological mechanisms in people with Down syndrome and those with dup-APP. Is there a a part of chromosome 21 which may actually protect people against ICH? Read the paper to find out!

Lewis had this to say about his work:

“I did my undergraduate psychiatry placement in learning disability and general adult psychiatry. The experience was fascinating: speaking to the patients, the long ward rounds, the legal and ethical discussions and the philosophical questions about psychiatry that even this short placement brought up. One of the consultant psychiatrists I was attached to was Dr Andre Strydom, I was so enthused by the placement I thought I would ask him if he had any research projects I could get involved with. He proposed I did a literature review looking at a question that had been raised by a recent Nature Review they had written: are people with dup-APP more prone to intracerebral haemorrhage than those with Down Syndrome? And if so, why? The subject matter seemed fascinating and with cross over into general medicine.

The process of writing the paper was challenging as the subject matter is complex, but I had a lot of support from Dr Strydom and the other authors’ contributions.

While taking on this project was a lot of additional work on top of my MBBS it was absolutely worth it. I got exposure to research in a really exciting area of psychiatry, improved my academic writing skills and got to explore this fascinating question in a lot of depth.”