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Adolescent Resilience to OVercome Adversity: EmpoweRment and intervention development – the ROVER study

Lead applicant: Anne-Sophie Darlington

Co-applicants: Professor Graham Roberts, Professor Mary Barker, Dr Ivo Vassilev University of Southampton, Dr Catherine Hill Associate Professor in Child Health at the University of Southampton, Dr Jana Kreppner Associate Professor in Developmental Psychopathology within Psychology at the University of Southampton, Dr Luise Marino​, Abigail Oakley

Project Summary:

Mental health conditions and symptoms in children and young people are increasing. Children and young people (CYP) with a chronic physical health condition often report having mental health problems such as feelings of anxiety and depression. A lot of research has focused on risk – circumstances that make it more likely for young people to experience mental health problems. In this project we want to focus on resilience -  the young person’s ability to use their strengths and support from family and friends to overcome challenges in their life.

Resilience has not often been a focus of support programmes for CYP with a physical condition. We would like to find out what experiences are common for young people living with physical health conditions, so that we can develop a support programme that applies across Child Health. We will use knowledge from these shared experiences to co-create the support programme with young people – called ‘tools for life’ (suggestion by CYP). We will also partner with national charities (partnerships have already been developed) who have worked with us before and who are very interested in supporting CYP around their mental health. The charity partners could help us to develop support components that are very specific to the condition (for example, fear of cancer coming back), which can be included in the overall support programme. Finally, work with young people has taught us that flexibility is very important: flexibility in when they access support, the way they access it and how it is offered to them. We will work together with young to shape this flexibility in support.

The project will have four parts:

Part 1 – Finding out what might work: List successful support components from 15 existing summaries of the evidence (reviews of the literature) to date and a report from Wellcome (an independent global charitable foundation which focuses on research), and identify the support elements (e.g., building confidence) which work well, and are acceptable to young people.

Part 2 – Developing partnerships: Develop a partnership with local stakeholders (e.g., Paul Hughes and Laura Renishaw-Villier – Hub stakeholders; SolentMind, No Limits) and national charities (e.g., Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group, Kidney Care UK, Asthma UK). who can support the development of the support programme, both the general as disease-specific elements. We will hold several workshops with stakeholders to develop the partnership and agree on the goals of the partnership and ways to work together. 

Part 3 – Developing the support programme: We will co-create (develop together with young people) the support programme– ‘tools for life’ - to increase resilience. We will focus on flexibility in the way the programme is offered to young people, and when young people access the programme, to suit their needs. This flexibility will make young people more likely to use the programme.

Part 4: Testing the support programme: We will test the support programme with 30 young people, to find out how many young people use the programme, if the programme is acceptable, how they use the programme, and how much they use the programme. We will also find out what the most important indicators of success are for the programme, such as young people experiencing less symptoms of anxiety and depression, and a better quality of life.