Children and Young People's Mental Health


Meet the committee

Meet our committee of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in Children and Young People's Mental Health (CYPMH)

Pezzoli Patrizia, CYPMH ECR committee chair
Dr Patrizia Pezzoli (committee chair)
Lecturer, University College London, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
UCL Profiles  |  Email: p.pezzoli@ucl.ac.uk  |  X: @PatriziaPezzoli

I studied Neuropsychology and Neuroscience in Italy (BSc University of Turin, MSc University of Padua). I then worked in the private sector for four years before starting a PhD in Psychology (Åbo Akademi University, Finland). My doctoral research mainly examined the aetiological influences on childhood maltreatment and mental health. I also completed a postdoctoral fellowship (University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, Canada), where my research focused on the neurocognitive deficits associated with antisocial behaviour. During this time I also got involved with local ECR networks in Neuroscience and Mental Health as a trainee representative. 

I joined UCL in October 2021 to support the implementation of the CYPMH Strategy, which includes supporting ECRs in this area. I also co-convene on the Genes and Behaviour course, and I conduct research on the aetiological influences and mechanisms leading to negative mental health and interpersonal outcomes. 

The broader goal of my research is to elucidate the risk factors that may increase risk of experiencing and/or perpetrating interpersonal violence, and to inform preventative interventions.


Dr Jeanne Wolstencroft
Research Fellow, UCL’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child health
UCL Profiles  |  Email: j.wolstencroft@ucl.ac.uk  |  X: @JeanneWols

After studying for a BSc in Neuroscience, I worked for an online start-up the arts sector. I returned to academia to complete an MSc in Psychology, after which I joined the Great Ormond Street UCL Institute of Child Health to complete my PhD and work on the national IMAGINE ID study (Intellectual Disability and Mental Health: Assessing the Genomic Impact on Neurodevelopment). 

My PhD piloted the online delivery of a social skills training programme for girls with a rare genetic disorder called Turner Syndrome. I’m currently developing a video-based autism screening tool for children aged 7 to 12 years olds for parents and an online observation schedule for clinicians.

I have two main research interests; one is focused on understanding the impact of co-occurring mental health difficulties in children and young people with neurodevelopmental disorders and/or rare genetic disorders. The other is how best to use technology to improve the identification of autism in children, and digital approaches to psycho-social intervention.


Wikus Barkhuizen, CYPMH ECR committee
Dr Wikus Barkhuizen
Research Fellow, University College London, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
UCL Profiles  |  Email: w.barkhuizen@ucl.ac.uk  |  X: @WikusBarkhuizen

Prior to joining academia, I was a practitioner, assistant psychologist and manager in the voluntary sector and the NHS, working in substance misuse treatment services in London. During this time, I completed my BSc in Psychology at Birkbeck. I obtained my MSc from King’s College London in Early Intervention in Psychosis. My PhD, at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, was on adolescent psychotic experiences such as paranoia, how these experiences overlap with mental health conditions, and its association with tobacco use.

I joined UCL as a postdoctoral researcher in January 2020. In this post, my main research projects focussed on the aetiology and the intergenerational transmission of childhood ADHD. I obtained a Sir Henry Wellcome postdoctoral fellowship in 2022. During this fellowship, I will be investigating whether shared biological pathways and causal relationships may explain associations between health-related behaviours and mental health outcomes in children and young people. 

I am interested in advancing our understanding of the early development of adverse mental health in the general population to ultimately improve prevention and early intervention efforts. I mainly use genetically informed designs in my research.


Dr Rosie McGuire
Research Associate, University College London, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
UCL Profiles  |  Email: r.mcguire@ucl.ac.uk  |  X: @rosie_mcguire

I completed my Psychology BSc at Royal Holloway, University of London. I then worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Bath on a project investigating how parents can best support their children after a traumatic event. I stayed at the University of Bath to complete my MRes and PhD in Psychology, which explored transdiagnostic predictors of the trauma-related mental health difficulties of young people living in care (e.g., foster care, residential homes) in the UK, as well as broader questions around their access to mental health support.

Following my PhD, I moved to my current role; a Research Associate at UCL and the Anna Freud Centre. I am working on an active implementation trial which aims to support the implementation of trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (tf-CBT) with young people in care experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I aim to continue exploring the best ways to improve the mental health support available for young people in care, and those with experience of care. I will continue using co-production and implementation research methods to ensure we are appropriately advocating for young people’s needs and that interventions shown to be effective are possible to implement in practice.


Dr Eva Sprecher
Research Fellow, UCL's Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology
UCL Profiles  |  Email: eva.sprecher@ucl.ac.uk  |  Twitter / X : @EASprecher 

I completed my BA in Experimental Psychology at Oxford before I trained and taught as a secondary school science teacher in North London. During this time I became involved in a project, now the Lighthouse Pedagogy Trust, to innovate in the children's residential care sector with not-for-profit children's homes that value people, place, purpose and use a social pedagogy model. 

Having become committed, through this project, to understanding better how to support the mental health of young people who have experienced early adversity I studied for an MSc in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice at Anna Freud and UCL. This involved working in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit that specialises in supporting young people with experience of the care system. I then studied for a PhD at UCL focused on better understanding the relationships between foster carers and the young people in their care which I finished in 2023. Alongside my PhD I worked as a Research Officer on the Reflective Fostering Study, a randomised control trial of a group intervention for foster carers which aims to improve the mental health of the children they care for. I now work as a Research Fellow on ReThink, a longitudinal study looking at what makes a difference to the mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced young people at two key transition points: moving from primary to secondary school and turning 18.

My research interests are the mental health of young people with experience of early adversity, especially those who have spent time in care, and how relationships with caregivers and others can promote improved mental health outcomes. I am very interested in how we can do better in co-producing research with people with lived-experience.


Rachel Perowne
PhD student, Centre for Behaviour Change, Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, UCL
UCL Profiles  |  Email: rachel.perowne.19@ucl.ac.uk

My first degree (many years ago!) was in Chemistry, after which I had a career of 20 years working in the public and not for profit sectors, including with charities delivering services within drug and alcohol, mental health and learning disability. I have always been interested in mental health and working with young people both at work and in a voluntary capacity. In 2019 I returned to academia and completed an MSc in Behaviour Change at UCL which I loved so much that I decided to embark on a PhD in the same area.

My research focuses on the involvement of young people in mental health research and, in particular, understanding and improving diversity and representation, of young people involved. I am a qualitative researcher applying behaviour change theories and approaches to understanding behaviour and designing interventions and strategies for change.

I have recently joined the ECR CYPMH committee and am keen to support the development and support available for Early Career Researchers within children and young people’s mental health.


Dr Daniel Hayes
Senior Research Fellow, Social Biobehavioural Research Group, UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care
UCL Profiles  |  Email: d.hayes@ucl.ac.uk  |  X: DanHayesPhD

I obtained my BSc in Psychology from the University of Kent and then moved to London to complete my MSc in Mental Health Studies at Kings College London. I them worked at the Anna Freud Centre for a number of years investigating ways to improve mental health services for young people. My PhD focused on shared decision making in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) between clinicians and young people. One output from my PhD were a set of decision aids which could be used during clinical appointments which were subsequently endorsed by NICE. 

My work currently focuses around social prescribing and how this can be of benefit to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.