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Raising awareness of CAMHS research

Raising awareness of CAMHS research

Dr James Colton is a Senior Research Practitioner at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust. In this piece, James details his work with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) teams and discusses the impact of research.

I am responsible for coordinating and supporting a variety of clinical research across the county,” James says. “I work to provide Dorset Healthcare patients with the opportunity to take part in research. However, there are not many opportunities for children and young people who use our mental health services to take part in research and this is something that we would like to change.

“Recently, my team applied for funding to allow me two days per week to work with our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) teams to do two things. First, we aim to work more closely with each of our six CAMHS teams to engage staff and their service users in existing portfolio research. Second, we aim to support the excellent work already underway at our CAMHS teams by helping them to develop promising local initiatives into home-grown portfolio research.”

James is working on a number of upcoming projects: “My first order of business was to meet with Dorset CAMHS service managers and individual CAMHS teams spread across the county to discuss the work that is already underway. As part of this outreach, I have discovered that Dorset CAMHS teams are already really research active and that I can be of most help by supporting them to develop their existing work and complete a competitive grant application.

“As a result, I am due to meet with the NIHR's Research Design Service to discuss a number of potential avenues of research and to determine the next steps on behalf of clinicians who put the ideas forward. From this point, I aim to meet with the clinicians once more to discuss how they would like to proceed and to support them to submit an application for grant funding.

“In addition, I am working with staff at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust to open up an existing piece of portfolio research to children and young people who use Dorset CAMH services. To date, this has involved working with a number of staff across Dorset CAMHS who were willing to offer their expertise to amend the research and make it appropriate for CAMHS service users and staff. My role involved synthesising their feedback into a coherent set of changes to the study documentation and we hope to roll this research out in the near future.”

When asked about the importance of research, James commented, “Research suggests that half of all mental health conditions appear by early adolescence and three-quarters by early adulthood. As such, it is vital that the support and treatments offered to children and young people are as effective and efficient as possible and research is one way in which this may be achieved.”

The 3-9 February 2020 marked Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. James highlights the importance of raising awareness for CAMHS research, “Children’s mental health services are extremely busy, and time is always tight for clinicians. However, there is a real appetite in Dorset CAMHS to develop the most effective ways of supporting children and young people. As such, it is of vital importance that we support the dedicated staff in our CAMH services to develop their practice through research and to share the fruits of this work.”