My current research focuses on perinatal mental health, sleep (adults and children) and on child and family mental health. This work includes the relationship between poor sleep and depression, the use of antidepressants to treat insomnia, several studies exploring maternal (and paternal) mental illness, care farms, and behavioural, emotional, and social difficulties in children. More information about these projects can be found via the links to the left of this page. A summary of some of that work is shown below.
To underpin and extend the professional work that has been running so successfully, I am now looking to instigate a series of research projects. I am currently developing a global online resource to tackle sleep problems in children and young people. The first stage of that project is to establish the extent of those problems. Research is under way to investigate that. Intervention studies are also being designed.
I have been conducting sleep research with adults since 1997. Most of that work has focused on the relationship between poor sleep and depression. I have published several papers on that topic. More recently, the sleep/depression work has centred on postnatal depression, particularly through the work undertaken by my former PhD student, Dr Lauren Kita. I now working with local clinical groups to explore how poor sleep might interfere with recovery from mental illness. I am currently seeking to establish a sleep research group, joining forces with the University of Bristol, Oxford University, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, University of Southampton, and the University of the West of England.
In addition to the sleep studies in postnatal depression and pregnancy, I have been involved with a number of projects relating to maternal mental illness. Current projects include an examination of how online resources are used to support women and families experiencing perinatal mental health problems, an exploration of 'postnatal depression' in fathers, and an investigation into how long perinatal mental illness actually lasts. Previously, my research has focused on mother-infant interaction and cognitive function in mothers with serious mental illness.
I am working on a series of projects focusing on child and family mental health. Together with education professionals, mental health service providers and local charities, we are looking at how we can evaluate, and improve upon, existing work in Dorset. Our partners include Bournemouth Borough Council, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and Barnardo's.
In one project, we are looking at ways to tackle behavioural, emotional and social difficulties in young people. I am working with Future Roots (who operate a care farm project in north Dorset) where young people with a range of challenging behaviours,are referred. This work is being conducted through a 3-year PhD project.
I am working with a number of excellent organisations to explore the benefits of the recovery model for mental health. With help from our students, we are evaluating 'Recovery Education Centres' which are run by the Dorset Mental Health Forum (in association with Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust). This work will be extended to a new programme being run by community mental health professionals. I also work with FirstPoint, a community mental health programme run by Bournemouth Borough Council. With my students, I am helping explore the recovery journey for the clients who are referred to this service.
In some previous research, I co-ordinated a series of projects that explored access to, and prevision of, mental health services in rural locations (in comparison to services in urban areas).