Meet the Young Ambassadors

Clara Faria
Clara Faria

Congratulations Clara on being named as an ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador. Please could you tell us a bit about yourself?

 Thank you so much! I am Clara, I am a junior doctor from Brazil pursuing a career as a child and adolescent academic psychiatrist. I have always been interested in psychiatry and mental health during my medical school years. Mental health was a constant theme in some of my favourite novels; The Bell Jar, Mrs. Dalloway, and The Hour of the Star. The suffering these young women went through is something that struck me. So when I joined medical school I was already curious about mental health research. I initially began assisting in research with adults suffering with anxiety which made me realise many mental health problems start in childhood, sparking my interest for this period of development. Currently, my main research interests and projects are related to epidemiology psychiatry, understanding if the eating disorders prevalence increased or diminished in young girls and why and neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD. I am also interested in wellbeing and how specifically it was affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does being an ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador mean to you?

It is truly an immense honour and a privilege – in all honesty, it is a mix of sometimes I can’t believe I was offered the position with loads of excitement to be able to promote the association values and evidence-based child and adolescent mental health and wellbeing. I have always followed ACAMH work, especially through the association journals: JCPP, CAMH, and JCPP Advances. Last year, at the ACAMH Awards, I had the incredible honour of being awarded Undergraduate Clinical Trainee of the Year, and got to know more in greater depth about ACAMH and its work. It is really unique as it gathers all relevant parties: the children and adolescents, parents, teachers, stakeholders and academics, in promoting the best possible mental health practices. I feel very humbled and excited to be able to play a small part in it.

What excites you about a career in child and adolescent mental health?

Despite the long-standing funding issues affecting CAMH service provision, I do believe it is a promising moment to pursue a career in child and adolescent mental health. Personally, regarding research, we reached a point where important longitudinal studies that started a while ago have collected multiple data points, and hopefully soon will be publishing their findings. Open Science grew too and the number of resources and databases available are increasing, for instance, regarding this, the Catalogue of Mental Health Measures is an amazing initiative. Besides, the possibility to conduct online surveys and interviews expanded research reach and diminished costs, so hopefully, in the near future we will also have more studies in underserved areas. Last but not least, regarding service provision and design, finally a reform attitude is being observed and young people and their families are effectively a part of the process of redesigning services. So, despite the difficulties CAMH services have been facing for a long time now, I do believe the future is promising.

What have you found useful to assist your own mental wellbeing?

One of the things that is helping me the most lately is doing Yoga. I feel it is very important to sometimes disconnect from work (despite really loving doing research) and Yoga is the moment where I take a pause and am offline completely. The academic environment is not always the healthiest as there is its fair share of rejections and frustration. Sometimes it is still hard when a paper gets rejected but two things that helped me in this process. Firstly, realising it is not personal, some reviews actually provide very useful comments to improve the research. Secondly, when sharing rejections with my colleagues, I quickly realised it happens with everyone, even with Professors, so it really is a part of the process. Sometimes it does not feel that way because we often only share our accomplishments, so it is more common to see people celebrating the good rather than sharing what didn’t work out.

Why should young people interested in a career in mental health get involved with ACAMH?

ACAMH has a myriad of resources to support your learning and career progression in mental health. Most people know the traditional journals and they are amazing but there are also tons of events with world renowned experts and conferences – most are online, so it is possible to participate anywhere in the world and many are free. If you are interested in communicating science to the public, ACAMH recently relaunched The Bridge – our online magazine which shares the latest research advances in an accessible way and also promotes young people’s perspectives on latest research and services. If you are keen on podcasts, ACAMH also has a weekly one. To resume, ACAMH has something for each type of learner and is one of the most complete associations when it comes to promoting best evidence and best practice.

Do you have any social media handles that you would like to share for people to get in touch with you?

Yes! I have a twitter account @ClaraGFaria1 where I talk about academic life and share mental health related events!

Listen to our podcast with Clara ‘From University to Research: A Conversation with an Aspiring Academic Psychiatrist’

Gloria Cheung
Gloria Cheung

Congratulations Gloria on being named as an ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador. Please could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a 4th year medical student of the Hull York Medical School. I intercalated in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience MSc at the University of York and achieved distinction. I am currently working as a research affiliate at the Child Oriented Mental Health Intervention Centre at the University of York and have been appointed as Psych Star by Royal College of Psychiatrists for the 2021-2022 academic year. My research interest is around adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

What does being an ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador mean to you?

Having only just been a teenager a few years ago, I feel privileged to be able to help promote children and adolescent mental health through ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador. I hope to communicate with professionals in the children and adolescent mental health field to learn more about how they tackle the problem and to talk about mental health in a young person’s perspective. I also hope to use my experiences to help other young people to talk about their own mental health.

What excites you about a career in child and adolescent mental health?

The developing brain fascinates me in many ways. Children and adolescents’ brain are more malleable compared to adults. By identifying individuals that are at high risk of developing mental health problems early on, we could provide them with early intervention and help decrease their risk. Moreover, coming from an Asian background, I understand the stigma surrounding mental health in some ethnic groups. I hope to help break this barrier in the future and provide mental health support for all children and adolescents.

What have you found useful to assist your own mental wellbeing?

I had my struggle with my own mental health in the past. To improve my mental wellbeing, I started to keep a diary to understand my own feelings better. It is also a good resource for reflective exercises. Having a good social network is also very helpful. It might seem easier to keep our emotions to ourselves at times but being able to share those feelings with others could relieve ourselves with the burden, improving our mental health.

Why should young people interested in a career in mental health get involved with ACAMH?

I first found out about ACAMH last year and have since participated in various events hosted by ACAMH. ACAMH organise multiple events related to children and adolescents’ mental health, including conferences, seminars, and CAMHS Campfire journal club. Young people that are interested in children and adolescents’ mental health should definitely get involved with ACAMH. It is a great way to learn about the newest research, network with like-minded people, and also to have your own voice on this important topic.

Do you have any social media handles that you would like to share for people to get in touch with you?

You can find me on Twitter @theinfpmedic

Nicholas Dunn
Nicholas Dunn

Congratulations Nicholas on being named as an ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador. Please could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Currently, I am the Project Coordinator at the Coping skills And Learning to Manage Emotions Readily (CALMER) Lab at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2021, I spent two years away from university working as a fitness trainer. During this time, I developed a passion for mental health while supporting my clients toward their physical health goals and watching as their successes produced tangible improvements in their overall wellbeing. My experiences in this setting motivated me to become involved in mental health research upon returning to university. Broadly, I am interested in developmental psychopathology and the role of executive function in child and adolescent social, emotional, and academic outcomes, and I plan to continue to investigate these interests in a clinical psychology doctoral program in the coming years. In my free time, I enjoy dabbling in woodworking and programming projects. Additionally, I am helping to develop a mindfulness-based virtual reality program for use in clinical practice.

What does being an ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador mean to you?

Being an ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador is not only an honor but also an incredible privilege to be a voice among the next generation of child and adolescent mental health professionals. Following the unprecedented and untold impact of the pandemic on children and adolescents during the past two years, mental health must be a top priority in science and practice as well as policy. Young people who are interested in mental health are needed, and I am grateful that as an ACAMH Young Person’s Ambassador I will have the opportunity to serve my peers and help facilitate the growth of child and adolescent mental health as a whole.

What excites you about a career in child and adolescent mental health?

My excitement for a career in child and adolescent mental health stems from the idea that together we have the opportunity to support children and adolescents’ wellbeing during a critical window in development and impact trajectories across the lifespan. Moreover, the field of child and adolescent mental health is constantly evolving as research informs practice and practice, in turn, informs research. Discovering how I might fit within and contribute to that reciprocal cycle has inspired me to want a career that provides the flexibility to engage with both science and practice.

What have you found useful to assist your own mental wellbeing?

Going on a daily walk has been incredibly beneficial to my mental wellbeing. I typically forgo music or podcasts on the walk and instead make it a time to check in with myself before starting my day. Technology has increased the ease of access to distractions, so awareness of my thoughts and emotions is a daily battle that I must make a consistent effort towards attaining. As a result, I write my thoughts in a daily journal as well. I do not follow a strict set of rules about what or how much to write. I simply write, and it has become a helpful habit along the way that I look forward to doing each night.

Why should young people interested in a career in mental health get involved with ACAMH?

ACAMH stands at the translational intersection between research and practice in the field of child and adolescent mental health. In other words, ACAMH is an outstanding resource for the aspiring, young mental health professional to not only engage with and learn about the current science but also to see where the evidence is informing best practices in the field. Importantly, ACAMH is also highly accessible for young people who are interested in mental health but are not sure where to start. I particularly enjoy listening to the mental health podcasts to learn about different areas of mental health that I would not be exposed to otherwise.

Do you have any social media handles that you would like to share for people to get in touch with you?

Please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, ResearchGate, or Twitter!