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Helena Tuomainen

Job Title
Assistant Professor
WMS - Health Sciences
02476 5 28205
Research Interests

I am interested in young people and their mental wellbeing in high and low/middle income countries, and coproduced research. I have an interest in schools as settings for promoting mental wellbeing, identifying problems and supporting young people. I am also interested in the role of parents and primary care in caring for young people with mental health problems and supporting them access care, especially during late adolescence/early adulthood. Due to my multidisciplinary background, I am also interested in the links between food/eating and mental health and wellbeing, and young person and family experiences accessing and receiving treatment for eating disorders.


I am involved in school-based mental health research and the development and use of an assessment platform, currently enabling schools to undertake yearly wellbeing measurements, but with scope for broader research use. I am leading on a project evaluating ethnic variation in access to eating disorder treatment, involving four NHS trusts in the West Midlands. I am also developing research proposals linked to mental health promotion/illness prevention in children and young people. As part of a team, I have just received funding to develop an intervention associated with commensality (eating together) to support student mental wellbeing. I co-lead the Public Mental Health module at Warwick Medical School. Previously, I was the scientific research manager on the EU-funded MILESTONE project (2014 to 2019), with nine interlinked work packages focusing on the transition of young people from child to adult mental health services. I coordinated the MILESTONE study, an 8-country cohort study with a nested cluster randomised controlled trial testing the effectiveness of 'managed transition'. Under my leadership, the MILESTONE team was highly commended for Public Engagement activities (University of Warwick awards, 2018) and won the MQ/NIHR award for Service User involvement in research. I am keen to take this research forward, with a focus on supporting young people access care after being discharged from specialist mental health services. My background is in food/nutrition and sociology, and I am an expert by experience (parent) regarding eating disorders. As former school governor and chair of governors, I have gained significant experience regarding schools. I have held research posts at a number of internationally renowned research institutions in the UK and abroad. In 2019, I was nominated for Individual University of Warwick Award for Inspirational Leadership. I enjoy PhD supervision and am currently supervising the following projects either as first or second supervisor: The acceptability of mental wellbeing and mental health screening in schools (Colin Palmer); Development and Pilot-testing of an intervention to improve the quality of life in children of parents with serious mental illness (Adeola Afolayan); Intensive Residential Outreach Care (IROC) model: experiences of and impact on staff and children and young people with complex psychological trauma and vulnerabilities (Bethan Cumber); Autism, Intellectual Disability and Clinical Practice: Competency, Suitability and Effectiveness of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: AIDE Study (Naomi Williams). I am also external supervisor for Trajectories of wellbeing; emotional wellbeing across adolescence (Jess Webster, Aston University). I am first supervisor for a MSc by Research project linked to Ethnic variations in access to treatment for eating disorders (Aliyah Williams-Ridgway). Previous PhD projects I have supervised include: Understanding why young people fall through the gap between child and adult mental health services and the associated impact and costs for young people, society, and the health service (Rebecca Appleton, Faculty thesis prize); Psychiatric hospital reform in low-income and middle-income countries; structured individualised intervention and recovery (SITAR) (Tasneem Raja); Mental health literacy of Sikhs in England (Ariana Kular);

Title Funder Award start Award end
MRC GACD: ISOBAR: Implementing Early Mental & Physical Health Detection & Support: Promoting a Whole-School Approach to Health & Well-being MRC 02 Oct 2023 01 Oct 2027
Studentship Agreement - Student to be appointed and project confirmed. Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust 01 Jan 2023 31 Dec 2025
MRC PHIND Reducing university student loneliness by supporting social connectedness via the 'LunchChat' app with a peer promotion element Medical Research Council (MRC) 01 Jun 2024 31 May 2025
Zines, emotional literacy and wellbeing in primary schools National Institute for Health Research (NIHR DoH) 01 Apr 2022 31 Mar 2023