The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS) has awarded seven individuals, from across the region, funding to develop their research skills in children and young people's mental health.

Launched earlier this year, the 2023 Springboard Individual Development Awards (IDAs), have been developed specifically to support individuals, employed by health and social care provider organisations in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, to take their research ideas and projects forward by providing them with financial support and a bespoke training programme - including a professional mentor.

Individuals were selected from a range of different employers including: universities, schools, NHS Trusts, local authorities and the voluntary sector. All projects are due to start by January 2024 and will last for six months.

The Springboard awardees include:

  1. Amanda Ferrell, Research Assistant (School of Psychology, University of Sussex) - Project: A scoping review of the experiences of racial/ ethnic minority young people (aged 16 to 25) in mental care settings in the UK, including experiences of the treatment they receive and find any gaps in their care.
  2. Anjali Das, Graduate Associate Wellbeing Team (University of Sussex) - Project: How we could optimise peer support programmes to better support students that come from underrepresented groups.
  3. Gillian Middleditch, Advanced Clinical Practitioner (Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust) - Project: To explore children, young people, families and wider stakeholders' views of undertaking Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medication clinics in the school setting.
  4. Lizzie Lowrey-Crouch, Head of Partnerships and Innovation (Involve Kent) - Project: Developing social prescribing as an intervention to support perinatal mental health.
  5. Maxine Byrne, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (Sussex Partnership NHS - Foundation Trust) - Project: Evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of a novel pilot of the Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) pathway, within an existing eating disorders service.
  6. Nicholas De Cruz, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology (University of Surrey) - Project: The perceptions of brain health in young rugby academy players (16-18 years).
  7. Ruby Porter, Counsellor, (Faversham Counselling Services) - Project: Does gender impact on 14-16 -year-olds' responses to mental health discussion? A study to identify the best context to encourage young people's consultation practices.

Professor Sally Kendall, ARC KSS Research Capacity Co-Lead, said:
"Taking care of our children and young people's mental wellbeing has never been as important as it is today. Latest figures, released this month, reveal how, one in five children and young people - aged eight to 25 years - have a probable mental disorder. 

"Through this year's Springboard Awards, we are delighted to be able to fund a new cohort of early career researchers, who are dedicated to improving the children and young people's mental health services that they provide.

"It's through their time, energy and commitment to research, that they will help to shape, inform and improve services for many children and young people in our region and beyond."

Further information:
The ARC KSS Springboard IDAs are aimed at individuals employed by an ARC KSS member organisation including:  academia, local authorities, social work, and private or charity workers.

The Awards are supported by funding from of the NIHR's ARC Mental Health Capacity infrastructure, where ARC KSS was awarded £750,000, across three years, to build research capacity in mental health and help researchers in clinical practice to develop and strengthen their skills and support young children and young people's mental health and wellbeing.

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