In July 2019, a group of 23 researchers held a whole day meeting in Berlin prior to the World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies to share research findings of their research groups. These researchers come from all around the world from multidisciplinary backgrounds but they share one thing in common - their research focuses on adolescent depression. This was the first meeting of its kind, paving the way to set up a new Adolescent Depression Research Network. A year on, a collaborative team has been formed, cordinated by Faith Orchard (Sussex), Victoria Pile (KCL), Shirley Reynolds (Reading), Fiath Loades (Bath), Stella Chan (Edinburgh) and representatives from third sector organisations (including the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust) and experts by experience. Together they are currently developing new exciting research and networking grant proposals to take this work forward. If you are interested to hear more, please get in touch or keep an eye on our social media handle.
More than 200 soothing images have been curated as part of a project by the University’s Advanced Care Research Centre, Project Soothe, and CogniHealth – a company supported by Edinburgh Innovations which creates digital solutions to support families affected by dementia. The soothing images have come from citizen science project, Project Soothe. People using the free app will have access to a collection of soothing images such as landscapes, water features, animals, greenery, and the sky. The images selected for CogniCare have been shown to enhance people’s mood and emotional wellbeing, researchers say. CogniCare offers activities for people with dementia – and their carers – to keep engaged and involved at home and in the community. See the full press release here.
We are seeking young people to take part in a neuroimaging study. We are looking for 16-18 year olds who have experienced depressive symptoms. Travel expenses will be paid. See the poster below and email for more information.
What images do you find soothing? Take part in our citizen scientist project, Project Soothe, by submitting an image you find soothing. To read more and to submit an image please click here and see the poster below.
How much do you know about the link between sleep and adolescent mental health? How do you feel about school day start times? Take part in our new online survey as part of the Sleep, Circadian Rhythms and Mental Health in Schools (SCRAMS) project looking at adolescent sleep and mental health. To read more about the study and to take part please click here.
Can Images or Videos Soothe Our Minds? We are looking for university/college students aged 18 or older to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of a mental wellbeing tool. The tool was co-designed by a young citizen scientist and Project Soothe. The survey will take 15-30 minutes to complete. The tool was designed to improve individuals' mental wellbeing, so we hope you feel more soothed after taking part! The survey is being conducted by EVA postgraduate students, Siu-Ching Wong, Ziqiao Liu, and Yumeng Yang. To read more about the study and to take part please click here.
Katharina Dixon-Ward, a Msc Psychology of Mental Health student at the University of Edinburgh and supervised by Dr Stella Chan, is carrying out a research project exploring adolescents’ attitudes towards peers who are perceived to be attention-seeking, performing or ‘faking’ depression. You can read more about Katharina's project, ‘“Faking It”: Perceptions of Depression Inauthenticity and “Attention-Seeking” in Adolescent Subreddit Communities’, here.
As part of The Royal Society of Edinburgh's 'Curious' summer events online programme, Dr Stella Chan will take part in a Health and Wellbeing panel alongside Prof Stephen Lawrie and Prof Alan Gow. The panel will discuss the impact of lockdown on people’s mental health and cognition now and in the future. Read more about the event and book here.
Our colleagues in Clinical Psychology at the University of Edinburgh are researching the transition period of adolescence to adulthood and how it can be a time of increased risk for mental health issues. They are looking for people aged 16-25 years old to take part in a survey. The reasons surrounding this heightened risk are unclear and under researched. By taking part you will help contribute to a body of research seeking to improve the mental health of this at-risk population. For more information on the study and to take part please click the link above.
Stella Chan took part in the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Tea and Talk podcast. Stella discussed coping strategies for managing mental health and how lockdown has affected our ability to carry them out. Stella also discussed some of EVA's work including Project Soothe. You can listen to the podcast here.
We are looking for people to give feedback on Project Soothe's Young Citizen Scientist work. In this citizen scientist project, young people have developed wellbeing tools for use by others. The next phase of the project is to get feedback on the tools. Each link below leads to the page about that particular wellbeing tool, including background on its development ('design') and a (red) link to use and test the tool ('click here to join in/play') with ways for you to give feedback to the young citizen scientists on their tools.
Tool 1) Cool, Calm & Collective: a team of young Citizen Scientists, aged 14-16, based in a secondary school in Scotland designed this. This online wellbeing tool uses Project Soothe images and soothing music specially composed for the tool.
Tool 2) Milton Minds: a team of young Citizen Scientists, aged 17-21, based in a further education college in Scotland designed this. This video-based wellbeing tool combines Project Soothe images with soothing music composed specially for the videos.
Tool 3) Soothe Vision: a young Citizen Scientist, aged 13, based in a secondary school in Scotland designed this. This uses Project Soothe images, inspirational quotes from Harry Potter books, and music inspired by The Hobbit (specially composed for this).
Stella Chan has been awarded ESRC funding to extend Project Soothe to support young people during the COVID-19 crisis. Elaine Gray will manage the project while continuing to work on the 'In search of vulnerability mechanisms for adolescent depression'/'What influences our mood?' project.
Stella Chan spoke with the Scottish National newspaper about the profound psychological impacts of social isolation and what we can do to improve our lives in the COVID-19 era. You can read the "Mental health: Expert advice on dealing with coronavirus pandemic" article here.
Stella Chan has begun a new collaborative project with Prof Daniel Smith from the University of Glasgow. Sleep, circadian rhythms and mental health in schools (SCRAMS) is funded by an MRC Engagement Award. You can follow SCRAMS' progress on twitter.
Stella Chan and Elaine Gray spent time in school this week disseminating our latest research findings on adolescent mental health. It was very inspiring to hear young people’s views on our work and to listen to their ideas on how we could develop ways to best help young people manage their mental health!
Project Soothe has grown and expanded so much over the years, we are so grateful for all who have participated. You can read about Project Soothe here, about Project Soothe Young Citizen Scientists here, and Project Soothe Global here.
Congratulations to former PhD student Somia Imran for publishing her first PhD paper, alongside co-authors Stella Chan, Angus Macbeth, and Prof Ethel Quayle. You can read the article here: "A Cross-cultural Examination of Attachment Relationships and Mental Health in Adolescents".
Funding has been secured for a PhD student to work with Dr Sinead Rhodes, Dr Jackie Maybin, and Dr Stella Chan on the following project: "A biopsychosocial approach to understanding the transition from childhood to adolescence and mental health in girls with neurodevelopmental disorders". The deadline for applications is 26/01/20, to apply see here.
Niamh MacSweeney and Anders Jespersen have begun their Royal Society's STEM Partnership project in a local school. They are working with pupils at Musselburgh Grammar to explore how our biology influences our mood. Follow Niamh and Anders on Twitter to stay up-to-date with the project.
Members of the EVA lab group attended the NRS Mental Health Network ASM - 'Lost in Translation? Bringing research evidence to practice and policy' at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Postdoctoral researcher Elaine Gray, PhD student Rabia Afzal, PhD student Jingi Ma, and former PhD student Somia Imran all presented posters. You can view the posters via our Twitter page here.
In July PhD student Niamh MacSweeney visited Thailand earlier this year to promote Project Soothe Global. Read more about the project here.
Stella Chan gave a keynote talk at the Children and Young People's Mental Health & Wellbeing Conference at the University of Stirling. She spoke about her work on her past and current work on adolescent depression and her work with Project Soothe. Elaine Gray presented EVA's current work on predicting adolescent depression and identifying risk and resilience factors.
PhD student Asnea Tariq has been selected by the British Psychological Society for a Postgraduate Study Visits Awards for 2019 to visit the Science and Practise in Psychology (SAPP) lab at the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Canada.
The Science and Practise in Psychology research team has a track record of applying scientific knowledge to enhance psychological practice and well-being of individuals suffering from different mental health conditions. The lab has a current on-going project related to self-compassion and well-being, which primarily focuses on investigating the role of self-compassion in building resilience among individuals when they are encountered with interpersonal, physical and mental stressors.
During the visit, Asnea aims to: (a) engage in discussions regarding the link between self-compassion and psychological distress as well as the possible therapeutic techniques that can help in improving self-compassion among the individuals dealing with psychological distress and (b) collaborate with researchers at SAPP lab in identifying the self-help techniques derived from compassionate mind training or compassion focused therapy that can be used as therapeutic strategies to foster self-compassion and mindfulness among individuals with psychological distress.
Applications are invited for an enthusiastic and motivated Research Assistant position at the Division of Psychiatry (University of Edinburgh) in neuroimaging and adolescent mental health. This research post will focus on supporting the development of adolescent psychiatric neuroimaging projects within the Division of Psychiatry and wider University with additional opportunities for international collaborative projects in the area of adolescent mental health. The main part of the post will involve supporting neuroimaging projects in terms of recruitment, administrative procedures, and data collection, along with analysis and preparation of manuscripts. There is potential for the successful candidate to also be involved in devising new experimental paradigms and novel analysis approaches dependent on experience. The post will require the applicant to be computer literate, systematic, methodological and innovative. The research project is centred within a vibrant and expanding research group with a focus on adolescent mental health, including both Psychiatry (as part of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, in turn part of Edinburgh Medical School and Edinburgh Neuroscience) and Clinical Psychology (at the School of Health in Social Science). The post is part time and available from October 2019 for 12 months. Closing date 28th August 5pm. More information and details on how to apply is here.
Dr Stella Chan is taking part in the Royal Society of Edinburgh's summer events program. On Monday12th August at 16.00 Stella will host "Tea and Just Talk: What is so tricky about young people’s mental health?". Stella will discuss young people’s mental health, what makes young people so vulnerable, and what we can do to help. The RSE Tea and Talks are informal events where visitors can engage with experts over a cup of tea.
PhD student Niamh MacSweeney is visiting Thailand this month to meet with potential Project Soothe stakeholders. Niamh is working with collaborators to discuss how Project Soothe Global. can be extended to support services in Thailand.
Stella Chan took part in a symposium discussing how to tackle adolescent depression at the World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (WCBCT) in Berlin.
We currently have two visiting students in the research group: Martina Frascara and Kyla Brophy. Martina is a Postgraduate Clinical Psychology Trainee visiting from the University of Padova, Italy. Martina is completing a six-month internship and is working on a research project examining self-compassion and feelings of burden in caregivers of psychiatric patients in Italy. Kyla is a PhD Student in Counselling Psychology visiting from McGill University, Canada. Kyla is here for a few weeks to work with EVA members and establish research connections. Kyla is particularly interested in self-compassion and emotion regulation in psychotherapy.
Congratulations to Heather Whalley (PI), Stella Chan (Co-I), and Liana Romaniuk (Co-I) on their successful Wellcome Trust ISSF funding. The project will examine novel neuroimaging markers for the detection of adolescent depression. The project will focus on cognitive biases, a key modifiable risk factor in the disorder, and one of the most promising targets for intervention. The project will begin in October 2019 and run for a year.
Congratulations to Niamh MacSweeney (EVA member, PhD student in Clinical Psychology) and Anders Jespersen (former EVA research assistant, now a PhD student in Translational Neuroscience) for their successful application to the Royal Society's STEM Partnership Grant scheme. The funding will allow them to undertake a year-long STEM project entitled, "Does our biology influence our mood?", in partnership with Musselburgh Grammar school. The project will provide a better understanding of psychiatric genetic research through a series of practical workshops as well as a student-led research project. The project will run during the 2019-20 school year.
Congratulations to Dr Stella Chan on winning the British Psychological Society's Public Engagement and Media award for her work with Project Soothe. You can read more about this work on the BPS's website.
Congratulations to PhD student Niamh MacSweeney for getting through to the University of Edinburgh's 3 minute thesis finals with her talk on “The Whirlwind of Adolescence and Depression”. You can watch her talk here.
Congratulations to Eilidh Smith who successfully passed her PhD viva in December 2018! In January 2019 we welcomed a new PhD student, Niamh MacSweeney, who will be working with Dr Stella Chan and Dr Heather Whalley.
This month some of the EVA research team and collaborators attended the NRS Mental Health Network ASM. We presented a poster detailing the progress of the 'In search of vulnerability mechanisms for adolescent depression' project, which now has 173 participants.
A new research paper by Eilidh Smith, Dr Stella Chan, Dr Heather Whalley, Dr Faith Orchard, and Dr Shirley Reynolds has been published. The paper is based on Eilidh's PhD work and examines the cognitive risk factors for adolescent depression. The paper, titled 'Cognitive biases predict symptoms of depression, anxiety and wellbeing above and beyond neuroticism in adolescence', can be viewed here.
Data collection for the Wellcome Trust and CCACE project has now begun in secondary schools. You can read more about the projects here.
Elaine Gray joined the EVA team as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant. She will primarily be working on the Wellcome Trust and CCACE projects, which begin this month.
Dr Heather Whalley, Dr Toni-Kim Clarke, and Dr Stella Chan have been awarded £9,600 from the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Epidemiology (CCACE) at the University of Edinburgh to run a pilot study to determine proof of concept for the derivation of epigenetic age from saliva samples for the study of adolescent depression. This work will be being carried out alongside the Wellcome Trust project, which will begin in February 2018. You can read about the work here.
Dr Stella Chan and Dr Heather Whalley have been awarded a £91,062 Wellcome Trust Seeds Award in Science to examine mood in adolescents and why some young people experience low mood more often than others. This project began will begin in February 2018. You can read about the work here.
Below is a short video of Dr Stella Chan discussing some of her research.