Families needed for ‘aspirational’ new research study

April 6, 2021

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is appealing for families to take part in a new research study to create a package which will help parents and carers to build their children’s resilience and support their mental health.

The study, called ASPIRE, will design an intervention to support children who have been through adverse childhood experiences, which are traumatic or stressful events which occur before the age of 18. These can include abuse, neglect, family break-up, being bullied or experiencing a serious illness.

The intervention will aim to help parents and carers build their child’s resilience, in turn reducing the chance that they will go onto develop mental health difficulties and need additional support from services in the longer term.

Brioney Gee, Acting Research Development Lead for Children, Families and Young People’s Services with NSFT and ASPIRE Lead, said: “This study is about co-producing a new support package for families, together with people who have relevant personal experience.

“The young people we spoke to when we were planning the research told us about the important role that parents and carers can play in supporting their mental health.

“Because of this, the new support package will aim to empower a child’s carer – be it their mum, dad or someone else who is looking after them – to use evidence-based techniques to build their child’s resilience, rather than a professional working with the young person directly.”

Tina, who is a parent/carer representative taking part in the research, said she is really excited to be involved with ASPIRE.

“This is something very close to my heart,” she said. “My role is to try and be the voice of the parents and carers of young people who have experienced adverse childhood experiences.

“Things can happen in life that are not in our control as parents, and we can feel a bit lost or hopeless at times. ASPIRE gives real hope that helping parents and carers can improve everyone’s life as early as possible.

“I have seen the effects that adverse childhood experiences can have on children’s lives. It is massively important to me to help co-design and co-produce new ways to shift the balance towards better resilience.

“It is also my belief that if a parent or carer can help to heal the child, that really helps them heal themselves and the family at the same time.”

The project has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and will see children, carers and health and care staff work together to decide what the support package will include and how it will be provided. The project team will also include researchers from the University of Oxford and University of Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Anyone who would like to find out more about the project or get involved in the research can email aspire@nsft.nhs.uk or visit www.nsft.nhs.uk/be-a-part-of-research

Children interested in finding out more can go to www.nsft.nhs.uk/research-children-and-young-people, where Raj the red panda will explain more about research and how to take part.