Pets, papers, and mental health awareness week

Heya friends!

The spring sun is out in London, we are bathing in the abundance of blooms (and associated pollen), the world is opening up a bit, my bike is tuned up, and I have joined a cycling club! So when I am not basking in the sun, on a pub patio, popping antihistamines, or pedaling on my bike, I have been keeping busy with other fun projects.

Pets on the pod

As you have likely noticed from my latest posts, Lisa & I have been releasing all sorts of silly and informative content on our new podcast “These are the days of our… podcast.” In our latest episode on Pets we regale you with tales of our pet-filled childhoods, the eco impact of pets, and our fav jet-setting pup Carrot. One of the things we talk about it how pets can impact our mental health. For many, having a fluffy companion requiring daily exercise has been a life saver during lockdown, and so I thought it was worth a shout out during Mental Health Awareness week (May 10-16)!

New paper hot off the presses – Community interventions for adults experiencing financial uncertainty

Providers of debt advice warn of funding crisis | Financial Times
Image from ft.com

When people see the headlines “new research show____”, it is easy to forget the year(s) of work that went into every single research paper. I am of the opinion that every publication is a major success deserving of recognition.

This past week, we published a paper in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health titled Effectiveness of community interventions for protecting the mental health of working-age adults experiencing financial uncertainty: a systematic review.

In this systematic review, we screened over 2,000 studies for papers which measured the effectiveness of community interventions for adults facing financial, employment, food, or housing insecurity.

This paper looked at 5 types of community interventions:

  • Advice services co-located in health care settings (e.g. community hub models where you could get debt or job advice in the same physical location as your general practitioner/family doctor)
  • Link worker social prescribing (e.g. a non-clinical worker who can connect people to resources and provide support. Other titles include community connector, community navigator, or wellbeing advisor)
  • Telephone debt services
  • Food insecurity interventions (e.g. food banks, bulk buying clubs, or community kitchens)
  • Active labour market programmes (e.g. schemes that provide recently unemployed workers with subsidies or participated in vocational training programmes)

Overall, we found some evidence that community interventions may improve mental health outcomes for those facing financial difficulty, however, we also recommend that further research on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these interventions is needed. This paper is open access, so you can read the whole thing here: https://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2021/04/29/jech-2020-215574

This review was led by Mike McGrath, a research assistant I supervised at UCL who has since moved on to bigger and brighter things as he takes on a PhD. He did brilliant work in this job and I am so excited to see where his academic public health career takes him!

In terms of my own milestones (acknowledging that this is gobbly-gook to those not enmeshed in academic publication culture), but I am particularly proud of this paper as it is my first as senior author (the last one the author list)! In epi, the power positions are first or last author.

Take care of each other, savour the spring sun, and maybe sniff some flowers (if your allergies allow!).


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