Understanding the emotional and practical needs of parents with psychosis and those of their children.

Children and Young People's PhD Scholarship 2018:  Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford,

Supervisor: Dr Louise Johns, with Professor Jane Barlow as co-supervisor


Healthcare policy prioritises early help for vulnerable children, to improve current and future wellbeing. Children of parents with psychosis are particularly vulnerable, with increased risk of developing social and psychiatric problems. Parental mental health can impact on parents’ capacity to offer the consistent, responsive care required for healthy child development. Parents may not recognise these difficulties, or fear that their children will be removed from them, and hence do not seek help and their familial needs are poorly understood. This DPhil project will conduct a series of studies to investigate the specific needs of young children (aged 3-11) who have a primary caregiver with psychosis. It will collect information about the clinical and social circumstances of these families, and will interview parents with psychosis and their children (young and grown up) about their difficulties and support needs. The project will record parent-child interactions in a structured play situation, to understand the quality of these relationships. The study will also test associations between parenting stress, psychosis expression, and parenting behaviours in daily-life, via brief self-reports at intervals over a week. This research is an important first step in the development of psychological intervention approaches for these families, to increase positive parenting and quality of parent-child relationships, to improve health outcomes for this vulnerable group of children.

Research Student: Jessica Radley

Hi, I’m Jess and I’m due to start my DPhil in Psychiatry at the University of Oxford in October 2018.

My original background is in Linguistics, but after taking a module in psychology in my third year I decided to complete a psychology conversion MSc at the University of Edinburgh. For my dissertation, I performed a meta-analysis on the prevalence of depression in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. This year, I have been working as a research assistant at North East London NHS Foundation Trust on an NIHR-funded project trialling a computer-based intervention for children with social communication impairment.

I am excited to be pursuing a PhD related to both psychosis and children.  My research project will be investigating the needs of parents with psychosis and the needs of their children. I look forward to being supervised by Dr Louise Johns and Professor Jane Barlow and to the chance to develop my research knowledge and skills. I am also very thankful to Mental Health Research UK for funding this opportunity.

Start Date: September 2018

Scientific Goal:

The scientific goal is to identify the specific needs of parents with psychosis, the needs of their children, and the inter-relationship between them. This knowledge will inform the development and delivery of tailored interventions for these families.