November is hurtling past at a startling rate! We’re already in the slippery descent to cheesy Christmas adverts and near-constant Mariah Carey on the radio. Let’s find out what UKRI-funded mental health networks have been up to this month. From events, blogs and YouTube series to research papers, there’s a lot to catch up on. Let’s get stuck in!
Goodbye to MARCH
As eight networks become seven, we can’t start this round-up without saying a massive thank you to the MARCH network. MARCH has enabled researchers to deepen their understanding of how social and community assets such as parks, volunteering and community groups play a vital role in good mental health.
Although the network has come to an end, the members’ work has sparked a further £20 million of research in this area, so their legacy continues. We recently caught up with Dr Daisy Fancourt, network director, to create some video content to mark the end of the network. Keep an eye out for it on social media.
We’re totally chuffed to launch the first series of Co-videos. Series one features speakers VAMHN, Emerging Minds, MARCH and Closing the Gap. They discuss how COVID-19 restrictions affected the populations they support, how they reacted to the pandemic and their hopes for the future. These videos have been a huge team effort from across the networks, so go and give the posts some love on the Mental Elf Twitter. We’ll share the second series, featuring SMaRteN, e-nurture, TRIUMPH and Loneliness and Social Isolation Network, early next year.
The TRIUMPH Youth Advisory Group (YAG) are working on a project, designed by YAG members, to explore whether young people feel understood by the adults that support them and whether feeling understood is an important part of good support.
The Youth Advisory Group research project, supported by TRIUMPH staff members, will include qualitative workshops and interviews with young people, facilitated by YAG members. This sounds like a fascinating project, and I can’t wait to hear more about it from TRIUMPH.
During Anti-Bullying Week on 15-19th November, eNurture’s youth panel member Lucy-Paige took over their Instagram. She shared her insights throughout the week, which you might have seen on Twitter too.
The start of Anti-Bullying Week on Monday 15th November is Odd Sock Day. The eNurture leadership team and advisory board dressed to fit the theme – we need to see photographic evidence, please!
Catch up on recent events
Another month, another smorgasbord of excellent mental health research events. Here are some of our favourites:
SMaRteN recently ran a number of interesting online events, all centred around student mental health (of course!). These included a launch of a bibliotherapeutic resource, a webinar on supporting the mental health of students transitioning to university, and the importance of peer-assisted learning. Catch up on them here.
The VAMHN team have been busy bees with plenty of events during the last few weeks. In September, VAMHN held a Meet the Publisher webinar for early-career researchers. Speakers Dr George Vousden, Professor Niall Boyce and Professor Helen Fisher shared a wealth of knowledge – a must-watch for ECRs! Watch it here, including handy timestamps to find parts most relevant to you.
VAMHN held the latest ECR webinar – The Ins and Outs of Grants Applications – last week. Keep an eye on their website for the recording. They also held the online network meeting on 23 November, where they launched a new funding competition, hosted a panel on researcher trauma and invited keynote speakers from The Sexual Violence Research Initiative.
Loneliness and Social Isolation Network (LSIMHRN) member of the Campaign to End Loneliness ran a Loneliness Beyond Covid-19 virtual event on 18th November. World-renowned experts in loneliness, policymakers and researchers came together to share their knowledge, collaborate and build a case for action to tackle social isolation and loneliness.
On the 18th of November, LSIMHRN plus-funded researchers held a webinar launching the Loneliness & Social Isolation in the Farming Community. It outlines the findings of one of the Pathways Plus Projects funded by LSIMHRN:
Emerging Mind’s first Open Lab event was on 7th October. If you missed it, take a look here. Their second Open Lab event was on 18th November and focused on exploring what design can bring to mental health research, which you can find on the Emerging Mind’s website soon.
Closing the Gap has published a study reviewing methods for stopping smoking for people with severe mental illness. Dr Panagiotis Spanakis and his colleagues reviewed randomised controlled trials to compare smoking cessation interventions. Take a look at their findings here.
TRIUMPH’s Dr Christine McMellon recently published a paper using a children’s-rights-based approach to explore how lockdown restrictions impacted young people’s mental health in Scotland. You can look at her and her colleague’s findings in more detail here.
Something to read
The Loneliness and Social Isolation Network shared a blog exploring loneliness in new mothers. For Mums Alone, UCL researchers interviewed 14 women who received NHS support for perinatal depression to find out how loneliness plays a role in depression for new mothers. The blog brings to life some of the stories of the women interviewed for this Loneliness and Social Isolation paper.
The eNurture network continues to make sure young people’s voices are heard. Youth Panel member, Elsa, wrote a blog post on ‘Essential tips on studying and stopping the social media spiral’. This was a follow up to her successful takeover of eNurture’s Instagram during World Mental Health Day. Although Elsa’s tips are mostly for young people, I’m sure many of us could benefit from these tips to step away from the doom scrolling.
Professor Gordon Harold and Professor Leslie Leve from the eNurture network published a two-part blog so parents are better equipped to help children during a mental health crisis. In the first part, Gordon and Leslie make a powerful case for the urgent need to support young people’s mental health. The second blog is coming soon, where they’ll outline suggestions for improving young people’s mental health.
The Emerging Minds network is looking for early-career researchers in any sector or discipline to take part in its Grow- Researcher development programme. This programme supports researchers interested in young people’s mental health and will continue beyond the Emerging Minds network’s lifespan.
Can learning spaces help students to feel better and learn better? SMaRteN is researching the well-being benefits of engaging in culture and experiential learning environments in education. They’re hoping to find out what a holistic approach to student well-being in higher education might look like. The survey is open until 30th November. Read on here.
Dates for your diary
The SMaRteN network is co-hosting an upcoming online panel event on 2nd December for the Mental Health Question Time (MHQT) series. The series is organised by the UCL Division of Psychiatry, the Mental Elf, and The Lancet Psychiatry. You’ll have a chance to ask a panel of experts questions on university students mental health and how we can take meaningful steps towards improving student mental health. Follow @MentalHealthQT for more details.
There’s still time to apply for Closing the Gap’s Impact Accelerator Fund, which closes on 20th December. The network is looking to fund knowledge mobilisation activities to reduce the health gap for people living with severe mental illness. The team have added a handy knowledge mobilisation FAQ to their website, full of useful links and information.
Something to watch
Have you caught up with the latest series of Research Sofa from Closing The Gap? Since the last round-up, there have been three new episodes, including one with Professor Wendy Burn CBE. You can find the full series here.
Closing the Gap isn’t the only network bringing you high-quality video content this month. The TRIUMPH team have recently created a dedicated video and podcast hub on their website. They’ve got loads of great sources on there, from young people discussing consent to their ECR webinar series.
Well, there you have it! Another bumper month for the UKRI networks and plenty of fantastic content to inspire and engage you. We’ll be back again for another round-up in the new year, as I know how much universities like a long Christmas break.
Have a great Christmas!