Pint of Science: Breaking the stigma

What is Pint of Science?

Pint of Science is an annual festival of scientific research mostly held in relaxed environments like bars and cafes.

Over three days each May, events take place all over the world. In Manchester a range of venues across the city host presentations from three academic researchers.

Academics share their research with members of the public and invite questions about their work. There is also a fun sciencey quiz with the chance to win a Pint of Science t-shirt or pint glass!

What did I learn?

At Monday’s session held at Didsbury Sports Ground in Manchester, there were three speakers whose research was showcased under the title: Breaking the stigma: discussing the taboos of society

Professor Jonathan Green – How can we help with autistic spectrum disorders?

Jonathan is, among other long titles, Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in the University of Manchester. He spoke about an area of his work called ‘Pre-school autism communication therapy’ (PACT)

This intervention worked directly with the parents of very young autistic children. The parents were given therapeutic advice on how they could more fruitfully interact with their children.

This research showed a long term benefit for the children, long after the therapeutic work had finished, with a positive impact seen ten years on.

Dr Pauline Turnbull – Beyond suicide prevention: research that saves lives

Suicide awareness has improved hugely in the past few years, but any life lost is one too many. Suicide places a huge burden on individuals and society with 6,000 people taking their lives in the UK every year.

Pauline spoke about the work she and the team at the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) at the University of Manchester.

Large scale research projects have allowed the team to identify ten key areas in which suicide prevention measure could be improved in hospitals and the community. See the diagram below.

NCISH -  10 key elements for safer care for patients.

You can read more about these on the NCISH website.

Dr Dawn Edge – The Schizophrenia ‘epidemic’ among people of African and Caribbean descent

Dawn Edge is academic lead for Equality Diversity & Inclusion at Manchester University and senior lecturer in their Division of Psychology & Mental Health in the School of Health Sciences.

Dawn spoke about her research looking a the prevalence of schizophrenia among people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK and how treatments could be made more relevant to this particular group.

She introduced a research project called Culturally-Adapted Family Intervention Study (CaFI). This work led to the development of a family intervention for African and Caribbean people diagnosed with psychosis and their families.

Importantly, service users who access mental health support were placed at the heart of the research process.

I had heard Dawn and CaFI research participants talks about this work at the ‘Ladder of Co-production’ at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust (during Mental Health Awareness Week) and could see the pride the participants took from their involvement in the project.

Hear more from the research team and ‘experts by experience’ in this film.

Thank you Pint of Science #pint19

Another great night of science for the public. See @pintofscience #pint19 for tweets.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

I’ve not written a proper blog on here for a while but I’ve been involved with some pretty cool stuff during Mental Health Awareness Week, so I’m jotting down a few notes here.

Monday: Tech Manchester Wellness Festival

This was my first visit to UK Fast Campus for this event focusing on managing the stresses of leadership in the tech industry.

As well as talks on everything from resilience to personality profiling there were yoga and meditation sessions on offer.

The great selection of healthy snacks and drinks was very welcome, especially as many events neglect this aspect of attendee wellbeing.

Thank you Tech Manchester.

Wednesday: WP&P Podcast Recording

I’ve recently become part of an online community called WP&UP. It’s a charity which supports people who use WordPress for business, many of these people work independently without a broader professional support network.

As part of my Care Labels For Humans project research I’ve been looking at the features of a range of mental health and well-being apps and I was invited onto the WP&UP podcast Press Forward to talk about my findings.

I’ll post more when the podcast goes live.

Thursday: Access All Areas at the BBC

This event is the BBC’s contribution to Global Accessibility Awareness Day. When we think of accessibility, we tend to focus on differences in mobility and sensory experience.

Accessibility also has everything to do with mental health and meeting the needs of people who think, feel or communicate differently.

It was really positive day and I really enjoyed hearing how experts by experience are increasingly visible in the accessibility world. You can read, hear or watch event highlights on the BBC website.

Friday: Mental Health & Co-production

To round this busy week off, I went to a one day event at The Curve in Prestwich. This is the home of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust including a number of research teams.

There has been a genuine drive by the trust to put patients at the heart of research and service design by including ‘service users’ in these processes in a way that allows their knowledge and lived experience to be used to improve services. This is part of what’s called ‘co-production’.

It was interesting to hear from a number of researchers and their collaborators. I was particularly touched by the work done Dr Sophie Walker and a number of service users, represented by one of the group, Anton.

Patients were involved at every stage of the research which focused on early intervention for young people experiencing psychosis. Working creatively, and using visual arts, it was possible to authentically express the wishes of the participants.

I also demo-ed the virtual reality (VR) gameChange prototype which helps people with psychosis to reduce their anxiety about interactions outside the home by providing a scenarios such as getting on a bus or visiting a cafe.

You can read more about this research on the Psychosis Research Unit website.

Move over Care Labels…

I have neglected this blog.

But it’s OK. We’ve had a chat and we both agree that maybe having some time out was best for both of us. The blog has been most forgiving.

There are rules though.

  1. This blog will now be the home of reviews and comments about mood, mental health and wellbeing apps and related online and offline services.
  2. Care Labels For Humans now has to exist on its own website and mostly not be mentioned on here.
  3. Rules 1 and 2 can be broken.

With a renewed focus on the future of this blog I have selected just a few of my favourite entries to give a taste of what once was.

My hope is that by pruning back the old I will be leaving space for new shoots to grow.

Onwards!