Kent to collaborate on £3.9M research project on impact of adverse childhood experiences

  "gaelle-marcel-AWidiBoRO08-unsplash-e1625049310951-1914x1280" by Gaelle Marcel.

Nicola Shaughnessy, Professor of Performance in the School of Arts, and a team of post-doctoral researchers from the University of Kent will collaborate on the Attune Project, a new £3.9M research programme led by the universities of Oxford and Falmouth.

The Attune Project will bring together diverse creative-arts, digital and health experts to investigate how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can affect adolescents’ mental health, with the aim of developing new approaches to intervention and prevention.

The Kent team will lead on one of the project’s research themes of neurodiversity, investigating the impact of ACE’s for neurodivergent young people. The team will also contribute to research on the role of place in relation to ACEs, working with refugee community groups to explore their experiences through creative workshops.

Children who suffer multiple ACEs which include abuse, neglect, loss events, poverty, discrimination, racism, and relational problems at home are much more likely to develop multiple social and developmental problems, including mental health difficulties as young adults.

Professor Shaughnessy said: ‘We do not fully understand what makes an adolescent vulnerable to, or protected from, mental health problems following adverse childhood experiences, nor how best to protect and support affected young people, many of whom struggle to find and engage with care services.

‘This research aims to address these gaps in knowledge and support by placing a diverse range of young people’s lived experience and a participatory peer research approach at the centre of learning and planning via creative arts and writing, performance, film, music and state-of-the-art games technology.’

The project is funded by the Medical Research Council of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.