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Meet the team

Please see below for details of the Theme 2 research team and postgraduate students linked to the Theme. Click on the names to find out more information about their research interests, current and past projects.

Research team Postgraduate students

Theme Lead
Prof Max Birchwood, Professor of Youth Mental Health, University of Warwick

Max Birchwood is a clinical psychologist and worked for many years as clinical director of youth mental health services and director of research and innovation in Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT). He pioneered the concept and practice of early intervention in psychosis in the UK and internationally and opened the UK's first Early Intervention in Psychosis service in 1994, informed by his concept of the 'critical period' in psychosis, which he translated into the mental health policy framework for the UK government as part of the NHS 'National Plan'. The service has been replicated with over 140 teams across the country and many internationally. He leads the national evaluation of these services through the NIHR National EDEN and SUPEREDEN programme grants.

Max was given the Richard Wyatt award for 'outstanding contribution to early psychosis research and treatment', by the IEPA ( www.iepa.org.au ). He has undertaken leading edge research into the application of CBT to psychosis: his RCTs in acute psychosis (1996; 2000), in reducing harmful compliance with command hallucinations (2004,2013) and collaborative RCTs in high risk psychosis (2012), are regarded as breakthrough trials and have been incorporated into UK NICE guidelines for schizophrenia. He has also undertaken extensive work developing the cognitive model of 'voices' , particularly the role of appraisals of voices' power and their role in driving affective dysregulation and compliance with command hallucinations. Max headed the mental health theme of the NIHR CLAHRC BBC (2008-2013) and now heads the NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands (2014-2019). As clinical director, he developed the 'Youthspace' youth mental health programme for Birmingham and Solihull NHS Foundation Trust (www.youthspace.me) and is developing this further to embrace public youth mental health in Birmingham, promoting the early identification of emerging mental health problems in adolescence. Max is a member of the NICE guideline development group for schizophrenia in children and young people (2013) and adults (2014).

m dot j dot birchwood at warwick dot ac dot uk

Meet the Team
Dr Charlotte Connor, Senior Research Fellow

Charlotte’s research falls broadly into three categories: auditory hallucinations, first-episode psychosis and adolescent emotional resilience. She is currently Senior Research Fellow for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust. An integral part of the research is a public health initiative targeting the key pathways in Birmingham which are responsible for delays in the treatment of psychosis, with the overall aim of dramatically reducing the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) experienced by young people in Birmingham. The design and implementation of the intervention have been underpinned by several qualitative and quantitative pathfinder studies, led by Charlotte, which have highlighted help-seeking delays and delays within mental health services as major contributors to long DUP. These findings have led to both structural care pathway changes for psychosis via the ‘Youthspace’ service and the implementation of a community focused ‘psychosis’ campaign to improve knowledge and awareness of how, where and when to seek help for the symptoms of psychosis.


Professor Swaran Singh, WMS Head of Division, Mental Health and Wellbeing

Prof Singh's research has mainly been health services oriented, with focus on early psychosis, somatisation, and deliberate self-harm, cultural and ethnic factors in mental illness, mental health law, transitions and medical education. He has become more interested in youth and minority mental health problems in the context of service configuration and delivery, with particular focus on improving access to care and outcomes. His current and recent research projects include 1. ENRICH Programme Grant: A series of interlinked projects to understand ethnic differences in pathways to care 2. AMEND study: A multisite exploration of the impact of the 2007 Amendments to the Mental Health Act (1983) 3. ENDEAVOUR Trial: A multisite randomised trial for improving vocational outcomes in early psychosis 4. The BRIDGE Project: Comparison of two models of transitional care to improve transitions from CAMHS to adult mental health care 5. Development and Evaluation of YouthSpace programme: an evidence based approach to the development and evaluation of youth mental health service (16-25) in Birmingham 6. Understanding mental health provision for young offenders: mapping of provision and care delivery in youth offending teams in west midlands 7. The TRACK study: A multisite study of transitions of care from CAMHS to adult services


Dr Sunita Channa

Colin Palmer

Colin Palmer is a Research Fellow at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and works for CLAHRC WM theme 2, Youth Mental Health. Through a background in vocational rehabilitation, brain injury and health psychology he developed a keen interest in the biopsychosocial model of health and how it can be used to improve health in unemployed populations. For his MSc Colin carried out a field study examining the role of self-efficacy and locus of control in disabled job-seekers on a government-funded Welfare to Work programme. He is also interested in how the study of human behaviour and digital technology can be used to create systems that support and promote early identification and treatment, applying this in his previous CLAHRC work on improving pathways/treatment delays for young people with first episode psychosis. Further, he has recently published a paper on teacher stress and the potential impact this has on teachers’ abilities to recognise and support pupil mental health. His current work for CLAHRC WM is aimed at predicting the emergence of eating disorders in a 3 year cohort of secondary school children. It is hoped that this research will assess the validity and suitability of digital screening tools for eating disorders at this age range, improve early detection rates and contribute further understanding on how eating disorders develop. Work on the theme also hopes to provide the foundation for a schools network known as “SchoolSpace,” which would act as a digital hub aimed at supporting pupils and teachers on the issue of mental health in educational settings.


Dr Paul Patterson – Implementation Lead / Leadership Fellow Youth Mental Health Theme

Paul is the Digital Engagement & Public Health Lead for Forward Thinking Birmingham. He has worked with the CLAHRC Mental Health Theme from its formation and has a strong track record in developing innovative responses to improving engagement, understanding, training and interventions in the field of youth mental health. With a background in applied research and regional project manager of several high-impact research trials, Paul has contributed to the evidence base for early intervention and prevention in psychosis. More recently he has implemented several public health initiatives including the Youthspace digital hub programme with the BSMHFT Youth Board, CLAHRC and West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and in Schools with CLAHRC and with the Birmingham Headstart resilience programme.

Theme 2 links

Publications

Meet the team

Projects


Theme lead

Professor Max Birchwood, University of Warwick


Partners

  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust
  • Birmingham City Council
  • University of Warwick
  • University of Birmingham