World Mental Health Day 2022, Monday 10 October – insights from our DPhil students
7 October 2022
World Mental Health Day is an annual event designed to raise awareness and recognise the importance of taking care of mental health. Set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), this year’s theme is ‘making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’ and encourages organisations and individuals around the global to think about mental health and how we can improve it.
To mark this day, two of our primary care DPhil students, Amelia Talbot and Charlotte Lee, are inviting department members to share what they think of when they hear “mental health”, and will be creating a mental health word cloud to showcase the responses. As an already empathetic, open and caring department, this provides a further opportunity to pause, reflect and remind ourselves of the importance of prioritising the wellbeing of not only ourselves, but our colleagues too.
Charlotte Lee is a psychologist and fourth year DPhil student in the department. The Association for the Study of Obesity recently awarded Charlotte the Best Poster Award 2022 at the UK Conference of Obesity, in recognition of her work entitled: ‘developing and evaluating a weight management intervention for people with serious mental illness’. Charlotte’s supervisors are Professor Paul Aveyard, Carmen Piernas and Felicity Waite.
Amelia Talbot in an Early Career Researcher Rep for the British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Group and was awarded the Rosamund Snow Scholarship to investigate experiences of treatment-resistant depression (an illness that affected her own life) to improve career pathways. Amelia is supervised by Professor Sara Ryan, Dr. Kamal Mahtani, and Dr. Charlotte Albury and is based within the Medical Sociology and Health Experiences Research Group (MS&HERG).
Charlotte and Amelia share insights around mental health, from their research and personal experiences:
World Mental Health Day is an annual reminder to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. It is a chance to talk about mental health, while helping more people get the support they need. I am excited about this day because my research aims to improve physical health in people with severe mental illness like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Across all countries, we observe differences in physical health in people with severe mental illness compared with those without. For instance, high rates of obesity contribute to a shortened life expectancy in people with severe mental illness, and increases the personal, social and economic cost of poor health. Yet there is cause for optimism.
I have worked with researchers, clinicians, industry partners and charities to examine which approaches might work best. We have shown a primary care referral to a weight management programme, tailored with extra support for people with severe mental illness, to be one effective solution leading to about 4kg weight loss after 12 weeks. People with a lived experience of mental illness have been central to our work to ensure their needs are met and that their voices are heard.
Departments across the world are using this day to create the space to highlight work of this kind and invite discussions on all things related. We welcome all colleagues in our department to share their thoughts on mental health.
I was interested in treatment-resistant depression because I was taking antidepressants for years with them having minimal effect on my mood. I found, via personal research, that the word for this is treatment-resistant depression and that 55% of primary care users with depression have this condition. However, no health professional communicated with me about this condition. I am using my own experiences as a foundational tool to improve care around treatment-resistant depression.
I was diagnosed with bipolar through the University counselling service at the start of my DPhil. Following my diagnosis, I felt lonely because I knew nobody else with this condition. I joined a bipolar support group, BipolarUK, in Oxford and having people around that understand what I am going through is the biggest source of support.
We’d like to thank both Charlotte and Amelia for sharing their work and experiences. The amazing work they’re doing to support and better understand mental health is invaluable and a much-needed topic of exploration.
Although World Mental Health Day takes place once a year, our commitment to the wellbeing of ourselves and colleagues is constant, and we would like to remind you of our internal, monthly wellbeing newsletters. If you have a story, event or information to share around health and wellness, consider sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.