Children and Young People's Mental Health


Dr Emily Midouhas awarded ESRC grant to study parenting and children's behavioural problems

Read the interview with Dr Emily Midouhas on her new grant.


Congratulations on your new grant! Can you tell us more about your project?

Thank you! Child behaviour problems are one of the most common reasons parents ask for or are referred for professional support. Breaking negative cycles of behaviour between parents and children is one of the best ways we know to improve child behaviour problems and is a common focus in mental health support. And yet we do not have a complete picture of how changes in behaviour and parent-child interaction unfolds in families during mental health support and long after support ends. Our project aims to unmask family dynamics from both micro- and macro- viewpoints. First, we will focus on micro-level change in-between support sessions by collecting new data from a sample of families presently undergoing support, working in partnership with UK child and adolescent mental health services. To collect these data, we have designed—with parents and intervention providers—an App called CALMS (Contextualising and Augmenting Learning in Mental Health Support). Second, we will explore macro-level change in family dynamics as a function of receiving mental health support, through analyses of data from a large secondary cohort of families tracked over many years (from the ALSPAC study).

Can you tell us more about CALMS how this idea came about?

We wanted to be able to capture detailed parenting and child behaviours on a day-to-day basis and create a way for parents to do this easily. CALMS facilitates parents to tell us about their own and their child’s behaviours twice a day while they are undergoing intervention. We think that it might be helpful for parents to then show this information to their supporting clinicians to inform conversations during treatment. We also expect that the act of tracking behaviour may be beneficial for families. As part of this project, we will ask parents about their experiences using CALMS and its many possibilities.

What do you expect to achieve with this project?

Our findings will improve theoretical understanding of parent-child processes as a function of and during intervention, with the ultimate view of informing the design and delivery of child mental health services. We will share our findings with a range of stakeholders including parents, clinicians and academics at an event. We will seek their views on how our study’s findings can be used to inform our understanding of and future research on parent-child dynamics in the context of professional support. Our research team is well-placed to shape and deliver this work - we have Bonamy Oliver, a developmental psychologist, Jane Gilmour, a child clinical psychologist and Jon Heron, a medical statistician – all of whom will contribute unique expertise important for this project.