Our research

We conduct research into the following areas:

01.  Perinatal mental health
02.  Parenting with severe and enduring mental health condition(s)
03.  Parenting and physical health conditions in children 

Perinatal mental health

Women who are vulnerable in pregnancy due to, for example, mental health issues, abuse, addiction or being in care, are likely to be more anxious, depressed and produce higher levels of stress-related hormones than women who are not.

Evidence is growing that depression, stress and anxiety in pregnant women can:

  • have adverse consequences that permanently affect the baby’s response to stress
  • disrupt the mother’s ability to be sensitive to her baby.

Both of these pathways are likely to harm mother-baby interactions. Since poor mother-baby interactions and maternal mental health strongly predict child maltreatment, prenatal rather than postnatal interventions may be more effective in preventing harm to infants in these cases.

Ongoing projects in this area

Digital Assessment of Wellbeing in New Parents (DAWN-P)

DAWN-P is a study looking at ways of improving the identification of postnatal depression symptoms in new parents through a smartphone app.

We are currently looking for pregnant people to take part in this study. Learn more on the DAWN-P study page.

Previous studies

Studies that we have previously undertaken in this area include parenting programmes for:

  • improving mother-child interaction and maternal mental health (THRIVE trial)
  • first-time mothers at risk of postnatal depression (Baby Triple P study).

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Parenting with severe and enduring mental health condition(s)

Serious mental illnesses can have significant consequences that may last for a long time. Parenting has been referred to as one of the hardest jobs in the world. This can be particularly applicable when parents are experiencing difficulties due to severe mental health conditions.

We aim to understand the experience of families where a parent has severe mental health conditions, as well as the potential impact of parental mental health issues on children.

Ongoing projects in this area: 

  • Parenting Intervention for Parents with Psychosis in Adult Mental Health Services (PIPPA)

Studies that we have previously undertaken in this area include:

  • parenting programmes and psychosis
  • online parenting programmes and bipolar disorder
  • self-directed parenting for parents with bipolar disorder.

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Parenting and physical health conditions in children

Parenting a child with long-term health conditions can lead to difficulties. Getting your child to take the treatment they need can be a struggle.

Often, parents wonder how they can make sure their children take their medicines when they should, and their child’s illness can cause extra stress.

Children sometimes behave in difficult ways that can lead to a worsening of their symptoms, which also makes their parents worry. Families can end up in cycles of stress, which can make the illness more difficult to manage, and sometimes parents feel overwhelmed.

We aim to investigate the effectiveness of parenting interventions in providing support for parents of children with physical health conditions.

Studies that we have previously undertaken in the past in this area include parenting programmes for conditions such as asthma, diabetes and cancer.

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