Children's mental health and neurodiversity is top of research agenda in Kent, Surrey and Sussex
In September, the Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS) held an in-person, community of research practice event on Children and Young People's Mental Health, Neurodevelopment, Neurodiversity and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), at the University of Sussex.
Chaired by Becca Randell, Implementation Manager for the Starting Well, ARC KSS, and Dr Ian Male, Director of Research at Sussex Community Foundation Trust, the event brought together more than 40 delegates from different academic institutions, voluntary and community organisations, as well as NHS England, to learn about research projects in the region, share best practice and identify research gaps.
ARC KSS Research Fellow, Devyn Glass, presented a project which was conducted with Autism Community Research Network Sussex (ACoRNS) at the University of Sussex in collaboration with University of Southampton, where digital stories were produced by autistic young people to show how they felt at secondary school using the 'Just Right' approach.
David Keaveney-Sheath, Strategic Senior Case Manager for NHS England, gave an overview of the Learning Disabilities & Autism Programme in the South-East. David outlined the ‘case for change’ for neurodiverse children and young people, their families and supporters. He discussed the current national and regional strategies and the opportunities for collaboration that come out of the All-age Autism Strategy 2021-26 and stressed the need to work collaboratively to ensure that transformation and improvement projects are co-produced by neurodiverse people, their families, clinicians, commissioners and researchers, to design and deliver evidence-based practice consistently and at scale.
Commenting on the event, David Keaveney-Sheath, said:
"It was a privilege to meet so many clinicians and researchers working, so passionately, to improve the lives of neuro-diverse children. The Learning Disabilities and Autism programme are excited to work with the ARC KSS community of research practice to deliver on our programme priorities and improve the service the NHS offers neuro-diverse children, young people and their families."
The afternoon provided an opportunity for delegates to hear all about a range of different research projects in the region and invited them to help identify any research gaps in a range of areas including: autism; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; learning disabilities; looked after children; safeguarding and social issues; special educational needs and disability, neuro-disability.
Becca Randell, Implementation Manager for the Starting Well theme at ARC KSS, said:
"This event has been a great opportunity for academics, clinicians and commissioners to identify potential research collaborations and identify positive solutions to building capacity in research in the field of Children and Young People's mental health, neurodiversity and neurodevelopment."
Learn more about the Starting Well: children and young people's mental health programme of work here.