Alexandra Schmidt started her PhD research in 2019 with the award of a Mental Health Research UK Scholarship at the University of Sussex. Her title is: Predicting development and treatment of common mental disorders in older adults. Alexandra was invited to give a talk at the 18th European Congress of Psychology and tells us about some of the highlights of the conference.
In July, I was pleased to attend the 18th European Congress of Psychology in Brighton, organised by the British Psychological Society. The event hosted hundreds of symposia, panel discussions, oral and poster presentations across 22 themes throughout the four-day event.
I had been invited to present a 15-minute talk on one of my PhD studies – a systematic literature review of predictors of psychological treatment outcomes for common mental health problems in older adults. The review highlighted several factors associated with psychological treatment outcomes, for example, the severity of their symptoms before treatment, the presence of any other psychological conditions and how much a patient engaged with their therapy, but it also demonstrated that this research is in its early stages and that further replication efforts are required. Due to the pandemic, it had been a while since I’d attended an in-person conference, so I was especially excited to have the opportunity to share my research to such a wide-reaching audience.
The conference had four important thematic streams: poverty and equalities, climate change and sustainability, conflict & peace and psychological responses to the pandemic with tremendously interesting keynote speakers, not least from our own Head of School, Professor Robin Banerjee! Further, I was interested to hear from presenters who also conduct research with an older adult population. For example, Dr Jessica Rees from KCL reported on older adults’ perspectives of their experiences of loneliness, highlighting the physical, behavioural, emotional, and cognitive symptoms associated with loneliness, as well associated factors, such as marital problems, feeling invisible or a lack of routine/planned activities. I thought some of these aspects were very enlightening and I will certainly consider these in my research going forward. Another interesting talk by Hrysanthi Kiranou, a researcher from Cyprus, who spoke about ageism in modern (ageing) societies and how knowledge, contact and ageing anxiety may impact this, highlighting potentially important avenues on how to reduce ageist attitudes.
Overall, attending the ECP was a very enriching experience, and I really valued the opportunity to be able to meet with and potentially forge future collaborations with other researchers.
I would like to thank MHRUK and all supporters for enabling my attendance at the ECP!