On the 28th April 2016 Cerebra held its Annual Conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on ‘Improving Mental Health and Well-being for Young People with Autism, ADHD and Learning Disabilities’.
Cerebra’s aim is to ensure that the needs, and voices, of young people with these conditions are not lost in the current discussion surrounding mental health.
With the exceptionally high calibre of professional speakers, including the involvement of a number of young people and the variety of topics covered, hopefully delegates felt that they enhanced their knowledge and understanding by attending our Conference.
The first session of the Conference was entitled ‘Risks to mental health and well-being in children and young people with a neurodisability’. This part looked at the current research that is being conducted around genetic and biological causes of mental health disorders, mental health problems in children with intellectual disability and co-occurring psychiatric disorders in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The speakers in this session were:
- Dr Andrew Cuthbert (Institute of Psychological and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University)
- Professor Richard Hastings (Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research, University of Warwick)
- Professor Emily Simonoff (Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London)
After a superb lunch, the keynote address centred on ‘Mental Well-being and involving young people in defining the agenda’. This presentation was undertaken by:
- Dr Cathy Street (The National Children’s Bureau), accompanied by
- Jack Welch and Kiri Joliffe (NCB Young People Advisory Group)
This session focussed on the benefits of children and young people’s involvement and participation in mental health and a short video was shown where young people talked about what it means to grow up happy. Both Kiri and Jack spoke, very bravely, of their own experiences and perspective of living with mental health issues and autism. They also stressed the importance of listening to young people.
Following a short break, the final session entitled ‘Working to improve mental health and well-being’ comprised of talks given by:
- Mair Elliott – this remarkable young lady gave an extremely powerful and moving speech that related to her own experiences of living with autism, mental health issues and psychosis.
- Dr Jane Waite (Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopment Disorders, University of Birmingham) who looked at how to spot the signs of anxiety disorders and effective interventions.
- Dr James Cusack (Autistica) who provided an update on the research projects that the charity are currently funding into mental health in autism.
- Professor Tasmin Ford and Dr Astrid Janssens (University of Exeter Medical School) who gave details of a new project focusing on what happens to young people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in transition from children’s services to adult services which will use national surveillance, qualitative and mapping studies.
At the end of each of the sessions the Conference Chair, Professor Stuart Logan (Cerebra Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology, PenCRU at the University of Exeter), fielded questions from delegates which gave them the opportunity to clarify matters arising from the presentations. The speakers were able to answer these questions clearly and make the subject matter understandable.
Additionally there were a number of exhibitors at the Conference who included Leigh Day, Hyphen Law, Tomcat, A Stitch Different, The Clarity Partnership, Autistica and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation. Alongside these there were information stands for our Academic Chairs at: University of Birmingham, Cerebra Innovation Centre, University of Exeter, University of Leeds and University of Warwick. Information was also available regarding our Family Research Ambassadors Projects.
Cerebra would like to thank all of the speakers and exhibitors for giving up their time to join us on the day. We are particularly grateful to have received sponsorship from:
- Leigh Day
- Foot Anstey
- Hobbs Rehabilitation
- Lyons Davisdon
- Hyphen Law
- The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
- A Stitch Different Community Group
- The Clarity Partnership