For this podcast, we are honoured to spend time talking with Dr. Steph Lewis about the relaunch of ACAMH’s magazine, The Bridge.
Steph is the Editor of The Bridge and a Clinical Research Training Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College, London.
Steph sets the scene by explaining what made her specialise in child and adolescent mental health, before explaining what The Bridge is, its aims, and why its existence is necessary and valuable.
Steph also discusses what has changed about The Bridge and why, plus possible challenges The Bridge may face initially. Steph also provides details as to what type of content to expect and why evidence-based research is so important.
Furthermore, we hear Steph talk about what more can be done to disseminate and promote evidence-based research and what more can be done to translate evidence-based research into practice.
Dr. Steph Lewis is a Clinical Lecturer in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London. She studied medicine at Imperial College London, and since graduating has undertaken integrated clinical and academic training, including psychiatry training at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the IoPPN. She is currently undertaking an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship, and continues to work as a psychiatrist in child and adolescent mental health services. Steph is the Editor of ACAMH’s magazine, The Bridge.
[00:00:29.720] – Jo Carlowe: Hello, and welcome to the In Conversation Podcast series for the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health or ACAMH for short. I’m Jo Carlowe, a freelance journalist with a specialism in psychology. Today I’m interviewing Doctor Steph Lewis, Clinical Research Training Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College, London. Steph is the editor of The Bridge, which will be the main focus of today’s podcast. If you’re a fan of our In Conversation series, please subscribe on iTunes or your preferred streaming platform. Let us just know how we did with a rating or review and do share with friends and colleagues. Steph, thank you for joining me. Can you start by introducing yourself?
[00:01:09.900] – Dr. Steph Lewis: Thanks very much, Jo. So I’m a psychiatrist. I work with children and young people and I’m also a researcher and my research is in the area of trauma exposure and the mental health difficulties experienced by young people who have experienced traumas. Perhaps because of my role being both a clinician and an academic, I’m really keen to promote the translation of research into clinical practice and vice-versa and that’s why I’m so enthusiastic and passionate about The Bridge because I think this is a great way to encourage that translation.
[00:01:47.900] – Jo Carlowe: Before we turn to The Bridge can you say just a little more about yourself in terms of what made you specialise in child and adolescent mental health?
[00:01:56.990] – Dr. Steph Lewis: Sure. So when I was training in medical school and in postgraduate training, I think I was mainly just really interested in the specialty, for a number of reasons I think because I think we see young people who have emerging mental health problems that are occurring while they’re developing emotionally, socially and cognitively and they need the support of their family and friends at this age often. So I think all these factors when they come together in young people are really, really interesting. Also I’ve always found it really enjoyable to work with young people, always really impressed by how thoughtful, honest, and brave the young people we work with are as well.
Perhaps also, I guess it’s important to say that it can be a really rewarding specialty, and I think that’s what I’ve found as my career has gone on a bit longer and I spend longer in jobs, if that makes sense. So we can help young people and families to overcome their difficulties and it can have potentially long lasting benefits, which I think is really important for the young people we see.
[00:03:01.900] – Jo Carlowe: Great, thank you. Let’s turn to The Bridge then. The Bridge has undergone many changes recently. Can you set the scene for us? What is The Bridge and what are its aims?
[00:03:12.250] – Dr. Steph Lewis: Yes. So The Bridge is ACAMH’s magazine. So we publish articles on child and adolescent mental health, clinically relevant topics for our broad audience, and the aim of The Bridge in particular is to bridge the gap between expert evidence and current practice.
[00:03:32.770] – Jo Carlowe: Given the existence of CAMH and the JCPP, why is The Bridge necessary and why is it so valuable?
[00:03:41.400] – Dr. Steph Lewis: So that’s a really important question. So in ACAMH we have really excellent and important journals that produce high quality research. So you mentioned CAMH, JCPP, and, of course, recently, JCPP advances, and they’re really important mechanisms of disseminating research, but the unique feature of The Bridge is that we try and make our content really accessible for our readers. So our focus and our unique sort of selling points, maybe, is that our articles are easy to read, concise, and get the key messages across. So we want them to be really accessible for busy clinicians, including those who typically don’t have time to read more detailed journal articles.
[00:04:27.100] – Jo Carlowe: Steph, can you tell us about the transformation of The Bridge? What has changed and why?
[00:04:32.020] – Dr. Steph Lewis: Yes, sure. So The Bridge has been producing excellent articles which has mainly been what we’ve termed sort of Research Digests. So these are articles which summarise recent research in our field, particularly the research that’s published in JCPP and CAMH, and we want to build on these excellent research digests, so we’ll keep those but we want to add a wider variety of articles that cover not only the latest clinically relevant child and adolescent mental health research, but also other aspects of best practice and policy. So ultimately, my vision or my goal is to make The Bridge as interesting and useful for clinicians as possible and for it to be widely read so that we can use it as a mechanism to put expert evidence into practice.
[00:05:23.420] – Jo Carlowe: Are there any challenges that you anticipate given the transformation?
[00:05:28.340] – Dr. Steph Lewis: Yes. I think I’d maybe say the two main challenges are firstly getting the content right. So I’m really keen to hear from our readers. I’d really like readers to feel that they have an important sort of say in what goes in the magazine and what they find most important. So I’d really like them to see it as their magazine and to get in contact with me and let me know what they’d like to see, to make sure that we’re getting that content right and pitched correctly for our readers.
I think the second possible challenge is reaching as many readers as possible. So I’m keen to disseminate The Bridge as far and wide as possible, and we’d encourage readers if they find it useful to share with their colleagues so that we can have the biggest impact as possible.
[00:06:18.380] – Jo Carlowe: Great. What content is coming up in The Bridge that particularly excites you? What can readers look forward to?
[00:06:25.060] – Dr. Steph Lewis: Yes. So as well as our excellent research digests we’ll be continuing with those as I mentioned, but we’ve got some really great articles that are written by experts in the field. So I’ll give you some examples of articles we’ve got coming up. For example, we’ve got an article written by Professor Anita Thapar that describes genetics research and how this can inform child and adolescent mental health care. Really interesting article, and as another example we’ve got an article by Jessie Baldwin and Andrea Danese about ACEs scores and how useful they are.
So these are both really clinically relevant and interesting research articles at sort of cutting edge and the sorts of topics that are really important for clinicians, I hope. Something else that’s coming up that really excites me is we’re having contributions from young people into The Bridge. So we’ve got some young people writing authors with sort of professional experts. So our young people, I guess, are experts by experience, and they’re bringing that really valuable experience in to inform those articles, and we’ve also got young people who are leading articles themselves.
So if they’re particularly passionate about a topic and feel that it’s maybe under recognised or misunderstood in clinical practice and they really want to get that message across to clinicians we think that their articles in The Bridge might be a great way to do that. So we’re working with young people to produce those sorts of articles.
[00:07:50.960] – Jo Carlowe: That’s fantastic. Steph, why is evidence-based research so important when it comes to children and young people’s mental health.
[00:07:56.980] – Dr. Steph Lewis: That’s another good question, Jo. So I guess I would say that research is vital to drive improvements in child and adolescent mental health, both in the care we provide and also in understanding mental health and interventions and prevention strategies so that we can best support young people who have got mental health problems or who might develop mental health problems, and this is particularly important in our field because mental health problems are common in young people. So we know that the latest national survey that was undertaken in July last year, I think, found that one in six young people had a probable mental health disorder at the time of assessment, and that was across the whole range of age groups.
So it really is a common difficulty that young people experience, and in fact we know that these difficulties cause a great deal of distress and impairment and they’re the sort of largest cause of disability in young people. So it’s a really important topic to make improvements on and research is essential for those improvements.
[00:09:02.560] – Jo Carlowe: You mentioned before how important it is for evidence-based research to have a sort of wide reach. What more can be done to disseminate and promote evidence-based signs?
[00:09:13.360] – Dr. Steph Lewis: This is something that researchers are becoming more and more interested in and wanting to engage with key stakeholders so that they can disseminate their research and ensure that it has as great an impact as possible. So in terms of what more can be done, I think there are some really great initiatives. It’s possible for researchers to get involved with and scientists to get involved with, and ACAMH has some really brilliant examples of those. So ACAMH has The Bridge, which we’re talking about now, but also these podcasts are a great way to disseminate research, and the videos that ACAMH makes, and ACAMH’s excellent events.
And maybe I’ll take this opportunity to plug ‘CAMHs around the Campfire’, which is ACAMH’s monthly journal club, which is a really great way to disseminate and promote evidence-based practice. So I was helping out with setting up the journal club with an excellent team, including Matt Kempen at ACAMH, Andre Tomlin (the Mental Elf) and his colleague, Douglas Badenoch. These journal club are still running. It’s a monthly informal journal club where we get a panel of experts to discuss research and that panel of experts include a young person.
And these have been really popular and really interesting sessions. So I think all these different initiatives are great ways to disseminate research.
[00:10:35.430] – Jo Carlowe: And more information on the ACAMH website and all those things you’ve mentioned. Steph, what about the translation of evidence-based research into practice? Does this happen enough in your view and what more can be done to enable this?
[00:10:50.340] – Dr. Steph Lewis: I think this is a really important area, and I think certainly more can be done. So I think one aspect of it is what we’ve been describing. So better dissemination of research and engagement with those key stakeholders of clinicians. Some of us are in both camps. I that make sense. So I think it’s really important, but I think as well as researchers and experts engaging with clinicians, I think it’s also important that clinicians engage with the research. So in my experience, there has been an increasing appetite for this.
So, for example, the popularity of our ‘CAMHs around the Campfire’ journal club shows that these sorts of initiatives are increasing in the clinical teams I’ve been working with where sometimes they might hold their own groups or teaching sessions and bring in the latest research into that which, I think, is absolutely excellent, and even just discussing the latest research with colleagues. It’s really important to encourage those discussions in our clinical teams.
[00:11:48.030] – Jo Carlowe: Great, and Steph what else is in the pipeline that you’d like to mention?
[00:11:50.260] – Dr. Steph Lewis: There are a few things that we’re planning for The Bridge that I haven’t mentioned so far. So maybe I’ll take this opportunity to mention them. So we’re really trying to focus on policy. So we’d like to, in The Bridge, discuss any sort of proposed or changes to law or guidelines that might impact young people’s mental health. So get experts in and young people to write articles to inform our readers about policy changes or potential policy and how this might affect their work and the young people they work with. I think that’s really important, as well as letting our readers know how they can influence policy. I think that will be a really great addition to The Bridge.
[00:12:28.820] – Jo Carlowe: Excellent and finally Steph what is your takeaway message for those listening to our conversation?
[00:12:34.700] – Dr. Steph Lewis: I think I’d say please check out The Bridge. Get involved, let me know what you’d like to see, what you’d like to read about in future and also please do share with your colleagues. So maybe I should use this opportunity to say on our web page there will be a very prominent feedback area where people can get in touch with me, but they can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. So ACAMH is a-c-a-m-h dot org. So I’d love to hear from our readers and please do get in touch.
[00:13:06.420] – Jo Carlowe: Fantastic. Thank you ever so much Steph. For more details on Dr Steph Lewis, please visit the ACAMH website www.acamh.org and Twitter at @acamh. ACAMH is spelt A-C-A-M-H and don’t forget to follow us on iTunes or your preferred streaming platform and let us know if you enjoyed the podcast with a rating or review and do share with friends and colleagues.
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