Wednesday, 07 July 2021
A University of Nottingham academic will be researching how personal narratives of illness and recovery can be used to transform the way eating disorders are understood and treated in adolescents, as part of a £3.8m research project.
The lived experiences of young people with eating disorders will be at the heart of the research involving Dr Heike Bartel from the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Nottingham, in collaboration with researchers from Kings College London and the Universities of Edinburgh and others.
Researchers will work directly with young people to develop an interdisciplinary, evidence-based model of how these conditions develop and how those affected recover.
Study teams will use a range of creative approaches, including theatre and comedy, to increase understanding among professionals and the wider public.
By exploring the diverse experiences of people with eating disorders, experts aim to shed light on the different pathways into these conditions.
They will also focus on the different phases of illness – at-risk, early stage and late stage – so that intervention can be personalised at each step.
Eating disorders are common, across the whole spectrum of society, with devastating impacts on young people’s lives, the research teams says.
Creative means like writing, comedy or theatre can be incredibly powerful and effective to amplify the voices of young people affected by eating disorders and to start much needed conversations. The strength of this project is its dedication to interdisciplinary work that brings science and arts & humanities together.”
Research co-leader Dr Helen Sharpe, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Health in Social Science, says: “Eating disorders are so often trivialized and misunderstood. This project provides an incredible opportunity to break down these stereotypes, and to build the foundations for treatments that are tailored to a young person’s unique circumstances.”
The award is part of a £24m investment by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) that seeks to improve the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents in the UK.
Seven projects will seek to generate new understanding of the developing mind to enable young people to flourish. Previous research has shown that 75 per cent of mental health problems emerge before the age of 18.
UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said: “More work is urgently needed to find effective ways to support the mental health of young people at a crucial stage in their lives.”
Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham
Ranked 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2023, University of Nottingham is a founding member of Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.
The University is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.The University is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.
We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.