VAMHN'S ECR Bursary WINNER Ashley Mccarthy REFLECTS ON HER experience at AVA's complicated Matters training course
Have a read below to see what the second of our 5 ECR Bursary Award winners, Ashley McCarthy did with her award money. To find out how you can apply to our ECR Bursary Award Scheme click here.
I recently attended Complicated Matters: The Links Between Experiences of Domestic & Sexual Violence, Substance Use and Mental Ill-Health training delivered by the Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) project. I wanted to attend this training as I am currently working on research looking at the impact of violence on young people and more broadly, have an interest in understanding trauma.
I found this 1-day training to be a thought-provoking and valuable experience. We explored many areas of violence and abuse throughout the day, but one which stands out was the discussions on the balance of power and the disproportionate experiences of abuse and violence that certain groups have faced; not only between men and women but also between different ethnic populations as well as LGBTQ populations, etc.
We spoke about barriers to accessing support services and the impact gender, stigma, ethnicity, and culture may have on this. This made me think about past clients I have worked within the probation service, many of which had experienced trauma as well as mental health and substance misuse issues. I thought about how I may ask things differently in future because of this training. It also drew my awareness to how I might support research participants to tell their narratives in interviews while remaining mindful of trauma-informed practice.
Overall, this training has made me more equipped to work with the tangled web of domestic violence, sexual violence, substance use, and mental ill-health, and understand how difficult it can be for victims to seek support and attend services. It also provided me with greater insight, more tools, and modes of questioning to utilise when interacting with victims of violence in the future.
I am grateful to the VAMHN for providing me with the funding to attend the Complicated Matters training. It has been a beneficial experience not only for my current role but for my future career aspirations in psychology.
VAMHN'S ECR BURSARY winner Michelle Degli Esposti reflects on her visit to Professor Douglas Wiebe’s Space Time Epi Group
Have a read below to see what the first of our 5 ECR Bursary Award winners, Michelle Degli Esposti did with her award money. To find out how you can apply to our ECR Bursary Award scheme click here.
For two weeks this August 2019, I visited Professor Douglas Wiebe’s SpaceTimeEpi Group at the University of Pennsylvania. This research visit was invaluable. I gained unique access to restricted-use CDC microdata files, which allowed me to examine whether specific laws (eg, “stand your ground” self-defense laws) are contributing to the increasing rates of firearm homicides among adolescents in the US. This analysis has now been submitted as an abstract to the Firearm safety Among Children and Teens (FACTS) Research Symposium and a full paper draft is ready to submit to the American Journal of Public Health.
In addition to these research outputs, I oversaw a series of focus groups. The focus groups aimed to better understand peoples’ experiences of urban violence. My research analyses data at the population level. As a result, I often lack insight on the everyday experiences of those living with violence in their communities. Hearing these experiences has underlined the importance of public and patient involvement and helped me to identify ways of incorporating voices of others going forward.
Finally, my research visit at University of Pennsylvania was fruitful in developing new connections and fostering collaborations. I arranged and attended meetings a handful of meetings. Of which, at least two have led to collaborations on ongoing projects, including mapping out patterns of antisocial behaviour in an adjudicated sample of youth and evaluating the impact of urban greening on crime.
The opportunity to spend two weeks working in a different research environment has been invaluable for my career development. I am incredibly grateful to colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania for their mentorship and to VAMHN for their support – without which this experience would have not been possible.
On April 17th, the network was delighted to attend UKRI's Cross-Disciplinary Mental Health Network Launch event. A huge thanks to the amazing Dr Helen Fisher of King's College London for presenting on behalf of VAMHN. To download her presentation slides click here. Additionally, if you would like to watch the livestream of the event provided by The Mental Elf, click here. You might not know that we are one of eight networks funded by UKRI - all networks focus on different aspects of mental health, but several have relevance to preventing and reducing the harms associated with domestic and sexual violence. If you would like to find out more about them and what they do, please have a look at their websites below:
On 11th March 2019, the Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network held its first network meeting at the St Pancras Community Centre in London. These meetings are held every 6 months and are a chance to discuss network strategy and activity; for members to meet and discuss key issues relating to violence, abuse and mental health; and provide a platform for members to present recent work and research findings.
The day began with an introduction from network co-lead Dr Sian Oram, who spoke about the network’s vision of reducing mental health problems by addressing associated violence and abuse, particularly domestic and sexual violence. Work to achieve this vision will be organised into three thematic areas: developing a shared language and approach to measurement, understanding the pathways to domestic and sexual violence and their relationship with mental health, and building more effective interventions. However, within this overall plan there is flexibility to respond to the research priorities of people with lived experience of violence, abuse and mental health problems as well as to those of other network members. So one of the first network activities is to conduct work to understand these priorities. Dr Dan Robotham from the McPin Foundation reported on the methods and preliminary findings from this work; full results will be published and circulated in the next few months.
The theme of collaboration continued with a round-table activity in which participants discussed: a) What are the most significant opportunities and challenges for the network over the next 4 years? b) What does co-production mean in the context of this network c) How can we make the most of member expertise and resources to make this network effective and high impact? d) What will make this network worthwhile to its members so that people continue to join and stay? e) How do we avoid having silent members who have signed up but don’t actively engage? There was a huge amount to be gained from the wide range of people in the room, coming from different backgrounds, sectors and academic fields with a variety of experiences of these issues. To read a summary of the answers given click here.
In the afternoon, we were delighted to welcome speakers from two of our partner organisations: Safe Lives and Standing Together Against Domestic Violence. Suzanne Jacob, Emma Vallis and Shanti Rao spoke about the SafeLives Whole Picture approach and findings from the evaluation of the Drive project, which aims to change the behaviour of perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. Sarah Hughes from Standing Together Against Domestic Violence then spoke about implementing lessons learned from analysing Domestic Homicide Reports.
In the second afternoon session, three members of the Domestic Homicide International Research Network presented on three different aspects of domestic homicide. Dr Khatidja Chantler from the University of Central Lancashire focused on the characteristics and mental health of victims and perpetrators of parricide (homicides committed by a child against one or both of their parents). The key findings of the pilot study highlighted the need for a higher level of professional understanding when it came to domestic abuse, as domestic abuse was rarely considered in the context of patients with physical and mental health needs. Then Professor Solveig Vatnar from Molde University College in Norway looked at the issue of substance abuse in cases of domestic homicide. Her research found that biological traces of substance abuse could be found in 53.1% of the homicide perpetrators and 41.2% of the victims. Lastly, Professor Nicky Stanley explored the effects of domestic homicide on children and found that domestic homicide reviews give scant consideration to the ongoing needs of child survivors. Overall these talks stressed the need for a stronger collaboration between health services, social services and domestic violence organisations.
Dr Sian Oram closed the day, reporting on upcoming events and activities, including information about the network’s first small grant competition and plans to develop an online data resource to bring together information about datasets that hold information on violence, abuse, and mental health.
If you missed the meeting, The Mental Elf recorded a number of podcasts with some of the speakers and other network members which you can listen to at the bottom of this post. You can also download the slides from all of the presentations by using the link below.
The next meeting will be taking place in Nottingham on 7th October. Speakers, and other details of the day will follow later this year along with booking instructions. Look out for more details in our newsletter. We hope that you will be able to join us then!
Ariana Markowitz is a PhD student based at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit. Her research focuses on how fear and trauma manifest and become defining parts of urban landscapes. Taking cues from this damage, especially in marginalized communities, she looks for alternative ways of repairing frayed social fabric and healing.
In 2018, she spent some time in El Salvador, one of the most violent countries on earth talking at length to people who have experienced trauma about those experiences.
In this blog piece, she talks about her emotions while working in El Salvador and after she had returned to London including struggles with her own mental health. She also discusses the limitations of the guidance given to researchers who are working in violent contexts and gives some recommendations to those who are thinking of carrying out similar research.
NB. The piece in the blog linked contains graphic content
On Friday, this network was officially launched at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. During the event, the Mental Elf recorded interviews with some high profile members of the network. These include the network co-investigators; Louise Howard, Sian Oram, Sylvia Walby, Seena Fazel and Leonie Tanczer as well as Dean of the Royal College, Kate Lovett, and Director of Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, Felicity Callard.
We will follow up with some additional information from the launch, but in the meantime these podcasts should give a sense of the aims and intentions of the network going forward.
From the 18-22 February 2019, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is running a short course aimed at those who are conducting or commissioning research into gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence is widespread across the work and takes place in many forms. These include, but are not limited to intimate partner violence, rape and coerced sex, child sexual abuse, and human trafficking. These can have a significant impact on individuals' physical, sexual and psychological health as well as their social and economic well-being. As such, it is essential that rigorously conducted research is carried out and it is used to influence policy and services around the world.
The course aims to strengthen participants’ knowledge and skills to conduct or commission technically rigorous, ethical and policy-and service-relevant research on various forms of violence against women, children and adolescents. It will be of particular interest to those who want to add a ‘violence component’ to a study that is quantitative or qualitative or an intervention evaluation. It is relevant for individuals working on health-related topics such as sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, HIV, mental health and substance use. The course will cover topics such as:
If you are interested in attending, please follow this link to the LSHTM website
We want to understand what people who have experienced violence and abuse, and who have experience of mental health problems think should be the focus of Network activities. We are therefore conducting a consultation between Nov 2018 and Feb 2019 to ask people about their priorities for research. We will engage people with lived experience of mental health problems and survivors of violence and abuse through links with our partners, including organisations such as Women’s Aid, Safe Lives, and Rape Crisis.
The consultation will involve an open online survey (hosted by the McPin Foundation) asking people to submit their ideas about the type of questions that the Network should focus on. We'll also be asking participants about the importance they would place on the preliminary topics previously suggested by Network leads. The survey will be followed by meetings with people from the mental health sector, violence and abuse services, and people with lived experience of violence, abuse, and/or mental health problems. Through this process we hope to begin to build a consensus about the direction the Network will take. We look forward to sharing our findings with you!
If you are interested in completing the survey and contributing to the direction that the network will take, please follow this link.
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) at King's College London is now awarding funded postgraduate research studentships to support doctoral research and training in the social sciences. These are available for three or four years full-time, either as a three year PhD or as a one-year Masters followed by a PhD.
The competition for the upcoming academic year is now open and applications are due by Thursday 31st January at 5pm. If you are interested in applying for this funding, please follow this link to the KCL student funding website.
We are delighted to announce the launch of the UKRI-funded Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network. This network aims to reduce the prevalence of mental health problems among children, adults, and the elderly, by bringing together experts from different fields with different ways of thinking about violence, abuse and mental health. Some of these have personal experience of these issues, others will have expertise from the work that they do, and some will have both as survivor researchers. Through a range of network activities – including small grants competitions - we aim to increase understanding and reduce the impact of violence and abuse on mental health.
If you would like more details about the Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network, please see this link or follow the network on twitter @vamhn.
The official launch event of the VAMHN will take place at the Royal Collage of Pyschiatrists on 7th December, details of which are included below. Unfortunately the event is fully booked, however you can register to a waiting list in case additional places become available. You will be able to follow the event on twitter @vamhn and @Mental_Elf. Further information will also be available on The Mental Elf website in the form of podcasts and blogposts.
The network will be officially launched on Friday December 7th from 5 p.m. until 7.30 p.m at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 21 Prescott St, London E1 8BB. The event will be the first chance to meet others associated with the network and there will be a number of high profile speakers.
The event is a free networking reception, with wine and nibbles, for potential and existing network members and an opportunity to meet people working in this field from many backgrounds and sectors, including survivors of violence and abuse, front-line clinicians, researchers, professionals working for third sector organisations, policymakers, and funders. We will tell you about the aims of the network and our planned activities and small grant competitions. We hope you will contribute to the discussions, providing us with ideas we may not have previously included or considered.
The speakers will include;
Unfortunately the event itself is now fully booked, however you can register to a waiting list in case additional places become available. You will be able to follow the event on twitter @vamhn and @Mental_Elf. Further information will also be available on The Mental Elf website in the form of podcasts and blogposts.