*CONTENT WARNING – eating disorders, mental health, loneliness*
Dr Lindsay Dewa is an Advanced Research Fellow in Mental Health at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London
We all experienced COVID-19. Being socially isolated from those we loved was really difficult for most of us, and had a real impact on our mental health and wellbeing such as loneliness. 75% of mental health disorders start before the age 24, and young people were already going through challenging transitions: from school into employment, college and university, and maybe new relationships. But then COVID-19 struck and these transitions were made all the more difficult.
By Dr Lindsay Dewa, Advanced Research Fellow, NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, IGHI
I have been aware of mental health from an early age. I just didn’t know it was called that at the time! I remember feeling deeply about things and wanting to make sure everyone was okay if they looked sad or down. It was then only natural that I leaned towards getting a degree in psychology – the science of the mind and behaviour. I then completed my MSc in research methods and forensic psychology. This naturally led me to embarking on a PhD studying sleep and mental health in prison populations.
“Please indicate whether your research will include patient and public involvement.” Ticks box.
Rapidly fading are the days when involving patients and the public in research is merely a tokenistic gesture, in favour of meaningful involvement and co-production.
Patient and public involvement (PPI) is research that’s carried out with and by patients, carers and public members, rather than to, for or about them. Co-production takes this one step further; here, researchers work with these individuals throughout the entire project – from start to finish.
On a basic level, all humans really need to survive is air, water, food and sleep. We need to sleep every night to give our body important R&R, among many other things. And research has shown how getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for our mental health and wellbeing.
When we sleep well, we’re more likely to have greater concentration, be in a better mood and get things done. In contrast, when we don’t, we can really see and feel the opposite effect. While we all have a poor night’s sleep from time to time, we know that people in prison and forensic mental health hospitals in the UK struggle more than most.