VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY WINNER alison mckinlay DISCUSSES THEIR ATTENDANCE AT THE public health science conference
Have a read below to see what our ECR bursary winner Alison McKinlay did with their award money.
In November 2022, I attended the UK Public Health Science conference in Glasgow with the help of an ECR Bursary Award from VAMHN. The conference is run by early career researchers for early career researchers, dedicated to showcasing developments in the field. The theme this time focused on creativity, innovation, and novel methodologies in public health.
The day featured many fascinating talks, including several studies using coproduction methods to learn more about young people’s perception of health and inequality through art (Laura Tinner) and working with migrant mothers in public health research grant development (Kerrie Stevenson). One of the highlights was an interactive theatre workshop from Anna Dowrick and group Performing Medicine. They used art and performance to share the findings of a research project on health inequalities experienced by ethnic minority communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was so powerful and engaging to see research quotes performed by actors.
During the conference, I presented a poster summarising our research, focussing on the ways women with past experiences of abuse used the arts and creativity to support their mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this Wellcome Trust funded research, we found that participants engaged in creative arts during the lockdown to help create a routine and practice mindfulness. There were also benefits for those experiencing social isolation when some art forms were able to be moved online (i.e., singing groups, drawing classes). However, there were also important barriers to arts engagement and subsequent wellbeing benefits, including concerns about online safety from abuse perpetrators, excess screen time causing fatigue, and limited time or resources to access art materials. During the session, I was also able to network with other researchers doing research into the wellbeing benefits of arts and creativity. It helpful to be able to learn about the similarities in some findings but also the distinctions that are specific in the consideration of arts-based research involving survivors of abuse.
And finally, I was also grateful to have the opportunity to talk about another creative arts research collaboration with Viv Gordon Company (funded by VAMHN), called Plain Sight. In this project, Viv and I had been working to incorporate creative writing, performance art and film to help tackle stigma and public misperceptions about adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
Thank you to VAMHN for awarding me with the travel bursary that supported my attendance at this event.