Sophie Dix, Director of Research gave us a warm welcome, introducing us to MQs brilliant new “Swear campaign”, promoting the amazing plethora of work the charity are involved with, using research to break down barriers in mental health. At the heart of this was MQs multidisciplinary approach to taking on this challenge from all angles. Did you know that on average three children in every class have a diagnosable mental health disorder and only one in four of those are getting the help they need?
First up was Keynote speaker 1, Professor Louise Arseneault who shared with us her insightful work on the victims of bullying. Louise’s work focuses on the victims themselves rather that the perpetrator, finding that the victims may have certain characteristics that increase their likelihood of victimization such as maltreatment at home. She also gave evidence from her extensive work using twins of the detrimental mental health effects of bullying, accounting for many confounds including previous mental. She even shared with us work showing bullying is even implicated in a poorly regulated immune system as well as a study showing emotional distress is associated with childhood bullying as late as till 55 years old!
Professor Hugo Critchley from the University of Sussex, showed us his novel research that uses participant’s accuracy of their own heart beat rate timing to measure interoception. Following on from work suggesting that those with conditions such as anxiety may show more discrepancy between there subjective perception and objective heartbeat he has developed therapy’s to alleviate anxiety by teaching individuals to be more accurately aware of their own bodily states, a simple but brilliantly promising therapy.
Professor Beatrice Rico added to the debate by discussion of inhibitory circuitries related to schizophrenia. She discussed the role of altered GABA signaling in schizophrenia and her work on interneurons ran from her lab at Kings College London.
Professor Jonathan Mill gave us an overview of the work from his work in both The University of Exeter and Kings College London. He presented evidence of the new emergence of epigenetics in relation to schizophrenia, highlighting that the gene regulation implicated in epigenetics changes at different points in one’s lifespan. He highlighted that there are critical periods in pre and perinatal period for epigenetic influences from diet, infection, medication, climate, hormones, psychosocial factors, radiation, toxins, drugs. In order to explore the full effects, research needs reflect an epidemiological design. Exciting research ahead!
Overall a fascinating and inspiring talk had by all the pPod team, with lots of food for thought! The day ended with linking in with colleagues and a huge display of posters, with Emily representing the Healthy Start, Happy Start study. Roll on day 2…..