Community, GROW programme

A personal perspective on the GROW programme – Dr Ruth Naughton-Doe

A personal perspective on the GROW programme – Dr Ruth Naughton-Doe
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Dr Ruth Naughton-Doe had been lacking in confidence and knowledge to turn her research ideas into funded projects. Now with her first postdoctoral fellowship funding to her name, a network of supportive peers and greater understanding of the mental health research funding landscape, she feels more confident in her next steps. She credits three great developments to her participation in the GROW programme.

I was so excited to be selected to take part in the first Mental Health Research Incubator GROW programme cohort. I had been looking for development opportunities because breaks in my academic career, including a year of maternity leave, had stalled my ambitions to leading my own research. I was lacking in confidence and knowledge to turn my mental health research ideas into funded projects. The GROW Programme was perfect as as it offered opportunities to meet supportive peers, have one-to-one coaching, and learn about topics relevant for early career researchers, such as applying for research funding, collaborating, and developing your research profile.

I was lacking in confidence and knowledge to turn my mental health research ideas into funded projects.

When I joined the programme, I didn’t have the knowledge, headspace or confidence to apply for my own research funding or a fellowship. Through support from the GROW programme and cohort, I exceeded my own expectations on progress towards this personal goal. I am delighted to say I applied for and was awarded a 17 month NIHR Three Schools Mental Health programme postdoctoral fellowship mid-way through the programme. I was inspired to apply after hearing about NIHR fellowships in GROW sessions.

I doubt I would have been successful without the support from my GROW peers who inspired me to apply and helped me to understand what a successful application requires.

The GROW cohort also helped me to see that my lived experience of mental illness could be an asset in my research career. My fellowship includes supervision from the McPin Foundation to reflect on how I can best draw on my lived experience in my research approaches. Many of the cohort were candid about the impact of working on mental health research projects on your own mental health. In an exercise where we thought about our priorities for mental health research in the future, we identified that looking after our own mental health was a priority. As a result of this, many of us are collaborating on a project that will explore how to manage your own mental health whilst being a mental health researcher.

One of the unanticipated benefits of being part of the GROW Cohort was the opportunity to hear about mental health research in other disciplines. I was fascinated to hear about mental health research in pharmacy. Being a social policy and social work researcher, I had not really considered the important role of pharmacists in keeping people safe and well. I also learnt about research that was analysing recordings of people’s voices to develop a depression screening tool.

Presentations from colleagues and outside speakers have inspired me to see mental health research much more broadly and introduced me to new ideas about how to do research.

When I joined the programme, I had lots of ideas and ambition, but I was feeling unsure about what the next step of my career might look like. The coaching, networking and personalised training through GROW have helped me feel more confident about my career plans. It was so fantastic to carve time dedicated to thinking about my future in research.

Dr Ruth Naughton-Doe was a member of the 2022 GROW programme cohort.

Applications for the 2023 GROW programme are now open.

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