£4.5M awarded to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust for cutting-edge research equipment and technology

£4.5M awarded to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust for cutting-edge research equipment and technology

£4.5M awarded to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust for cutting-edge research equipment and technology

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded more than £4.5 million to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to pay for new research equipment and technology.

a young girl holding a leaf

This will be used to improve the accessibility of the Trust’s research so more patients and service users have the opportunity to take part in research. It will include a new sleep laboratory, equipment for the Informatics theme of the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre and resources for the new Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People.

New sleep laboratory at the NIHR King’s Clinical Research Facility (CRF)

This investment will allow the creation of a sleep laboratory to study the impact of disturbed sleep on brain functioning and mental health. This will be based in the NIHR King’s Clinical Research Facility and the funding will refurbish existing space for private rooms and purchase new equipment designed for sleep studies. When not used for sleep research, these new facilities will be available as generic clinical space for experimental medicine, thus increasing our capacity for studies across the CRF’s portfolio.

The sleep laboratory will be a leader in this field, building on existing strengths in the development of both silent and motion insensitive MRI, relationships with industry and the UK’s largest clinical sleep service that spans across King’s Health Partners

Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People

The equipment and facilities of the Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People will revolutionize the type and scope of research undertaken, enhancing our understanding of the relationship between brain-based mechanisms, clinical disorders, and social context.

This funding will pay for an MRI compatible EEG system for imaging infants to be used in perinatal services and additional eye tracking equipment that is specifically helpful for younger children who find it difficult to sit still during data capture.

The equipment will enable researchers to explore the interplay between brain and social/environmental risk factors such as trauma exposure, poverty, parental mental illness with an aim to investigate potential prevention targets.

NIHR Maudsley BRC Informatics

The funding will provide dedicated BRC storage and high-performance computing facilities to enable the informatics team to process large datasets. This hardware will enhance research capacity and capability, supporting the development of large language models and increasing the speed of testing of deep learning models. It will also support the creation of a  Mobile Health and Speech Lab which  include a collection of devices and speech equipment to ensure a standardised process for testing, benchmarking, piloting, and evaluating existing and emerging devices for data collection.

“We are delighted that the NIHR has chosen to award £4.5m to South London and Maudsley. It will fund equipment for our new Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People to enable our academics and clinicians to continue their world-leading research into the prevention and treatment of mental illness.”

David Bradley

Chief Executive Officer, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

“This investment will allow us to purchase equipment, technology and hardware, across the NIHR Maudsley BRC, NIHR King’s CRF and for the Pears Maudsley Centre. Not only will this enhance our research capacity and capability, it will also improve the experience of participants in research, particularly children and people with mental health conditions, because our facilities have been designed with their needs in mind.  We are delighted that our application was considered excellent by the NIHR committee.”

Professor Matthew Hotopf

CBE FRCPsych FMedSci, Director of the NIHR Maudsley BRC, and Vice Dean (Research), Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London

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Meet our volunteers: Stephen’s Story

Meet our volunteers: Stephen’s Story

Meet our volunteers: Stephen’s Story

The CAMHS Mentoring Project matches volunteers on a one-to-one basis with a child or young person currently using one of our services. The pair meet regularly to access community activities together and build a relationship. Volunteer mentors are someone the service user can have fun with, try new things with, and talk to for informal pastoral support. 

Stephen, currently a volunteer, shares his experience of the project and how he believes the programme can support young people with their mental health.

Stephen Ayayi-Brown

Stephen Ayayi-Brown

CAMHS Volunteer Mentor

What made you volunteer for the project?

I decided to volunteer as I’d like to have varied experience in the mental health sector. Additionally, I am particularly passionate about mental health in young people. I sought out volunteer opportunities online which is how I found this opportunity. I have been a part of the programme for 10 months now. Initially you have to attend a training session before you’re paired up with a mentee. The training was incredibly insightful and accessible.

What have you learnt during this experience?

I graduated from De Montfort University in the summer of 2021 with a BSc in Psychology. I currently work as a trainee Mental Health Wellbeing Practioner (a new psychological practitioner role introduced recently by the NHS). During the mentoring journey, I was able to learn a lot about OCD and Autism, as my mentee had both diagnoses. This was an invaluable experience, as I was able to apply theoretical knowledge I have previously acquired and also learn new information, while busting the many myths surrounding OCD and Autism.

How do you think your mentee has benefited from your mentoring?

I believe my mentee gained skills to make them more confident in social interactions/settings and gained advice on how to protect their mental health as they navigate the future.

How were you able to build a relationship with your mentee?

My mentee and I discussed many things. Our main topics of discussions were politics, social justice, history and social lives. We often met at my mentee’s house, but we frequently took walks for our sessions. We found that this provided a neutral environment that allows both of us to speak candidly. We also took the time to have fun and went to the cinema too!

I checked in with my mentor regularly by text message, even if we hadn’t scheduled to meet up. We both saw it as important to be accountable and this fostered a good relationship between us. To my surprise, we shared a lot of the same interests, so we got on straight away like a house on fire! That really helped the mentoring process as we were on the same page from the start.

Why should people take part in the mentoring project?

Aside from the fact that you will gain experience to add to your CV, the mentoring experience is incredibly rewarding. You’re given the opportunity to support a young person 1:1 at one of the most crucial times of their life. I think it’s even more important because young people who need support with their mental health can often feel ostracised and alienated. It was an amazing experience for me to be able to be there for a young person and provide them with a form of comfort and to make their life that much easier.

I would absolutely recommend this programme to other mentors. The experience you will gain is absolutely invaluable. It is amazing to connect with young people and to help them realise and actualise their own potential. It is such a rewarding feeling, and I would happily volunteer again.

Aside from supporting a young person with mental health difficulties, I was able to learn so much from my mentee. They were incredibly smart and their perspective on life was refreshing and really got me thinking. It was an intriguing experience indeed.

You can find out more information on how to join the CAMHS Mentoring Project and other volunteering schemes the South London and Maudsley Trust has to offer: https://slam.nhs.uk/camhs-mentoring-project.

 

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CAMHS Body Dysmorphic Disorder: How this unique service is supporting young people

CAMHS Body Dysmorphic Disorder: How this unique service is supporting young people

CAMHS Body Dysmorphic Disorder: How this unique service is supporting young people

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a condition which is common in children and young people. It is a mental health condition where people spend a lot of time worried and upset over their appearance and spend lots of time trying to fix it. BDD impacts around one or two people in every 100 people and can be treated.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, the team at the BDD Clinic explain who they are and how they’re supporting young people at a time when the need has never been greater.

a young girl holding a leaf

We are the Maudsley National and Specialist Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and related disorders service for young people. It is the only specialist BDD clinic in the UK for those aged 5-18 years old. We offer highly specialist assessment and treatment, as well as teaching and training.

Our clinic is made up of a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians with decades of collective experience in assessing and treating BDD. This includes psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and a parent peer support worker. We provide evidenced-based, NICE recommended psychological and pharmacological therapy including Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) medication.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

BDD is a common mental health condition and affects at least 1-2 per cent of young people. It is a psychological condition where a person becomes very preoccupied with one or more perceived flaws or defects in their physical appearance. These appearance concerns cause significant distress and lead to engagement in behaviours to try to ‘fix’ or hide the perceived flaw that are difficult to resist or control (e.g., frequently checking mirrors or seeking reassurance). BDD can seriously affect a person’s daily life, including school, social life, and relationships.

What other mental health conditions can commonly occur for young people with BDD?

Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Eating Disorders, and Depression are some examples of commonly occurring mental health conditions. It is very common for people with BDD to feel anxious, depressed and suicidal and many sufferers experience low self-worth and low self-esteem.

How do young people with BDD experience anxiety? 

BDD involves a cycle of anxiety where young people experience preoccupying worries about their appearance which cause strong feelings of anxiety, shame or sometimes disgust. These difficult thoughts and feelings lead to repetitive behaviours such as mirror checking, seeking re-assurance, hiding under baggy clothing, or avoiding leaving the house. These behaviours are often an attempt to try to fix or hide their appearance. These thoughts, feelings and behaviours can result in significant disruptions to a young person’s relationships, school, and home life. For example, feeling too anxious to leave the house without spending a long time on their make up or checking their appearance in the mirror.

How does the King’s Maudsley Partnership support children with BDD through research and clinical work?

Alongside evidenced-based treatment to support young people in overcoming BDD, we deliver a national teaching programme to raise awareness of BDD by highlighting the key signs and symptoms and the available treatment approaches. As a team, we also conduct a number of research studies to learn more about BDD and improve the treatments we offer. For example, we are currently researching how we can best adapt CBT for BDD for those with Autism Spectrum Conditions and exploring the role of difficult life experiences such as bullying in the development of BDD.

Once open, the Pears Maudsley Centre will accelerate research and clinical advancements with the closer partnerships that will form between the clinical and research groups.

How can young people be referred to your service?

We accept referrals from local CAMHS teams across the country. If you think you or someone you know might have BDD and would like advice please contact the National and Specialist OCD, BDD and Related Disorders CAMHS on:

020 3228 5222

Please speak to your local CAMHS team if you would like to seek a referral to our service.

Are there any resources that can support parents and young people?

If you would like to find out more about BDD, we recommend the book ‘Appearance Anxiety’ by the National and Specialist OCD, BDD and related disorders service. Further information regarding our service can be found at: Service Detail – South London and Maudsley (slam.nhs.uk). You can also read more about BDD here: www.bddfoundation.org

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We need more than ambulances to help kids’ mental health in the UK

We need more than ambulances to help kids’ mental health in the UK

We need more than ambulances to help kids’ mental health in the UK

Children’s mental heath has never been so critical, in the next five years, 1.5 million childlren will need new support with their mental health.

a young girl holding a leaf

Our Interim Partnership Director, Professor Emily Simonoff, discusses how clinicians and academics will work together to deliver effective, timely and inclusive mental health care for those who need it most in the new Pears Maudsley Centre when it opens in 2024.

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Sky News: Mental health in teenagers: OCD ‘made me want to end my life’

Sky News: Mental health in teenagers: OCD ‘made me want to end my life’

Sky News: Mental health in teenagers: OCD ‘made me want to end my life’

New data published by NHS Digital shows that 18% of children aged 7-16 years and 22% of young people aged 17-24 years have a probable mental disorder.

In response to the report, our Interim Partnership Director, Professor Emily Simonoff said ” These are stark figures. In 2022, following years of awarness raising campaigns about the importance of good mental health, and an ever increasing understanding of the role that it plays, we still find ourselves in a position where almost one in every five 7 – 16 year olds has a probably mental health disorder.”

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A third of parents think the cost of living crisis will significantly affect their children’s mental health

A third of parents think the cost of living crisis will significantly affect their children’s mental health

A third of parents think the cost of living crisis will significantly affect their children’s mental health

One in three (34%) parents say they think the rising cost of living could affect the mental health of their children a great deal, while seven in ten parents (72%) say it could affect it at least a little over the coming months, according to a new poll by Savanta ComRes and commissioned by the King’s Maudsley Partnership.

Group of children sitting on the floor and smiling

The poll, which surveyed 2,150 UK parents of children between 5 and 17 years old, between 23rd-29th September – after the Chancellor’s mini Budget – also found a third of parents (33%) feel their child is currently experiencing mental health difficulties. This rises with the age of children to 43% of parents with children aged 16-17.

Amongst these children, parents thought the most common symptom or behaviour parents have noticed is anxiety (68%), which is cited by nearly twice as many parents as the next most common response – which is noticing depression or low mood episodes in their children (37%).

The survey also found that three-quarters of parents (75%) think government funding for children’s mental health services should be increased. 

A significant three-quarters of parents (77%) say they would consider paying for private healthcare services if their children were experiencing mental health difficulties. Only 3% say they definitely would not. 

In some encouraging news, amongst those surveyed, the vast majority of parents (86%) say they feel able to support their children if they are experiencing mental health difficulties. Of those who say their children are currently experiencing mental health difficulties, the majority (56%) have successfully accessed professional help for their child’s mental health. A further 3 in 10 (30%) say they didn’t successfully access professional help but tried to.

The King’s Maudsley Partnership, which is made up of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London and the Maudsley Charity, aims to transform child and adolescent mental health care through a unique collaboration between world-leading academics and clinicians, to significantly speed up the time taken to bring research breakthroughs into clinical treatment.

Professor Emily Simonoff
Interim Director of the King’s Maudsley Partnership for Children and Young People’s Mental Health

Children and young people’s mental health has already been impacted by COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis adds yet another burden. Mental health services are already struggling to meet the demand and the pressure on families’ finances could see an even greater rise. It is all the more important to make interventions available to children and young people to help them navigate stressful life events – the research we will be undertaking in the Pears Maudsley Centre will work towards preventative interventions and targeted treatments.

David Bradley
Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Parents are very worried about how the cost of living crisis will affect their children, just as they begin to recover from a pandemic that affected their education, personal development and ability to deal with mental health conditions. 

 

Together, South London and Maudsley and King’s College London are already leaders in the research and treatment of anxiety. But with the latest figures showing 68 per cent of parents noticing their children experiencing anxiety we need a step change.

 

The expert knowledge and specialist care at the heart of the King’s Maudsley Partnership will drive new treatments and help address many of the complex mental health problems that we are facing.”

Kelly Boone, whose teenage daughter Avella is recovering from severe Body Dysmorphia

“It is a big worry. My daughter is doing well with her recovery but it’s still a daily battle. We try to cut back as much as we can but we have to make sure heating, lighting and water are available to her. She still has BDD which involves daily routines and rituals and she judges herself by very high standards. We can’t compromise her mental health.

 

She dropped out of college last year and thankfully now she’s back, but she can’t face public transport. We drive her there, which is an hour’s round trip. Gas, electricity and fuel are three things for which we’re going to have to pull money out of thin air. Every day we’re bracing ourselves for what’s next, hoping something will change but the costs keep spiralling.”

The Partnership will have its home at the £69m Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People, which will be home to clinicians and academics in the field of children and young people’s mental health from the Trust and from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), as well as the outstanding Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School and young in-patients. The Centre is due to open in Denmark Hill in early 2024.

It will provide treatment to young people with a range of conditions, from eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder, to anxiety, ADHD, autism and trauma.

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