Head of Programmes & Research
Mental Health Foundation
FOCUS AREA OF PRACTICAL/ CLINICAL WORK/ RESEARCH
The Mental Health Foundation is a UK wide mental health charity that works to prevent mental health problems. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we take a public mental health approach to support communities, families and individuals to live mentally healthier lives, with a particular focus on those at greatest risk.
Within the Foundation I manage programmes and research activity in Scotland and take a lead role in the development of new work streams. I’m committed to promoting human rights and improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable groups who experience inequalities, stigma and discrimination. I have a specific interest in the links between policy, research and practice and using participatory action research methods.
Existing programmes include: research and learning team for See Me, Scotland’s national programme to eradicate mental health stigma and discrimination; children, families and young people programmes; our inequalities work with at-risk groups, including refugees and those with mental ill health.
Existing research studies include a study into support available for families bereaved by suicide; a peer research study with vulnerable mums, an evaluation of a cancer screening programme that aims to better reach people with long term and enduring mental health conditions.
As a prevention charity, in addition to programmes and research we run public health campaigns. Our most recent Mental Health Awareness week campaign focused on Body Image, which enabled us to build on the collaboration with Strathclyde University over the past three years exploring body image and healthy social media use. This has led to me taking up the role as co-chair of the Scottish Government’s Body Image Advisory Group. This is an exciting development that will be led by young people to help inform action to promote healthy body image.
I’m a recent member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland and Co-investigator with the Transdisciplinary Research for the Improvement of Youth Mental Public Health (TRIUMPH) Network with University of Glasgow (ESRC funded). I’m also a member of the Citizenship Recovery & Inclusive Society Partnership (CRISP) funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant. This has incorporated a four-year knowledge exchange with New York University.
MOTIVATION/ INSPIRATION/ MISSION
As a woman from a family of strong women, I’ve always been interested in how the images and interactions that are part of our daily lives influence how we feel about others and ourselves. This interest has grown with the birth of my two daughters. As a parent I want to know what I can do to maximise the likelihood that they are happy with who they are, including their body image. This means exploring what I can do as a parent but also what we need to do as a society to take pressure off young people and enable them to navigate the challenges of the modern world.
My motivation and interest in body image has also been influenced by my career choices. My first job was as a youth worker and for the first 10 years of my career, I worked in youth heath service development. This included time as a Mental Health Advocate for young people, which led me to spend time with young people receiving treatment within an inpatient unit. This is where the devastation of eating disorders became apparent to me and led to my Masters dissertation focusing on young people’s perception and understanding of eating disorders and prevention programmes.
PUBLICATIONS/ PROJECTS/ ACTIVITIES
- See Me (May 2018): Evaluation of process and impact: Phase 2 Year 1 Mental Health Foundation.
- Tonner, A., Eckler, P., Cameron, J., Kleim, A. Exploring a role for positive body image in social media use. Abstract presented at the biennial conference of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), November 2018, Lugano, Switzerland.
- Eckler, P., Tonner, A., Cameron, J., Kleim, A., McAlinden, S., Rifay, H., Munro, C., Oakley, C., Preston, S., Riley, S. Digital media and eating disorders: Future directions for impactful research. Poster presented at the biennial conference of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), November 2018, Lugano, Switzerland.
- Goldie I, McLean J, Woodhouse A, Shields J, Cameron J, Biggs H, Knifton L (2016) A review of Mental Health Services in Scotland: Perspectives and Experiences of Service Users, Carers and Professionals. Mental Health Foundation for Scottish Government.
- Quinn N; Knifton L; Goldie I; Van Bortel T; Dowds J; Lasalvia A; Scheerder G; Boumans J; Svab V; Lanfredi M; Wahlbeck K; Thornicroft G (2013) Nature and impact of European anti-stigma depression programmes Health Promotion International 2013; doi: 10.1093/heapro/das076
- Mental Health Foundation (2013) An evaluation of Gardening Leave: A horticultural therapy project for veterans
- Dowds, Heywood, Fitzgerald & Winterbotton (2012) Needs Assessment: Young people’s drug and alcohol services in Edinburgh City for Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership
- Dowds J (2011). An evaluation of CHANGE resources for parents with Learning Disabilities– professional report for NHS Health Scotland
- Dowds J, McCluskey S & Fitzgerald N (2011) Getting the Measure: An evaluation of Alcohol Intervention(AI) training and resources for frontline staff working in the homelessness sector for Cyrenians.
- Dowds J (2010). What do young people think about eating disorders and prevention programmes? Implications for partnerships between health, education and informal youth agencies. Journal of Public Mental Health. Vol.9. Issue.4.
- Dowds & Fitzgerald (2010) A synthesis and analysis of current information and evidence relating to Action 10 of the Smoking Prevention Action Plan for NHS Health Scotland
- Dowds J (2009). A review of youth health service provision in Glasgow City – Cross Cutting Issues for NHS GGC
- Dowds J, & Fitzgerald N (2009). Alcohol brief interventions in Scottish antenatal settings: key questions, literature review, and current practice for NHS Health Scotland
0141 226 9849