Institute of Education


UCL researchers win ESRC Impact Award for their work on young people’s mental health

12 November 2020

Academics from the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies have won the Economic Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Panel’s Choice Award 2020 for their research on mental health challenges faced by young people in the UK.

Young people talking outside. Image: Alexis Brown via Unsplash

Professor Emla Fitzsimons and Dr Praveetha Patalay’s research used data from the Millennium Cohort Study to help enhance the understanding of child and adolescent mental health among policymakers and practitioners.

on Twitter

Their 2016 study, which outlined the differences between mental ill-health and mental wellbeing, underscored the fact that good mental wellbeing and absence of mental illness do not necessarily go hand in hand. This was important for Public Health England (PHE) in developing methods for measuring child and adolescent mental health, and resulted in mental wellbeing also being considered in interventions and public policy. Their subsequent 2017 research, which revealed high rates of depressive symptoms among 14-year-olds, has informed conversations about future health policy in relevant government departments including PHE, the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care.

The result was announced in a virtual ceremony this afternoon (12 November).

Other IOE nominees included Professor Alice Sullivan (UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies) and Dr Anna Remington (Centre for Research in Autism and Education). 

Professor Sullivan was nominated for her 1970 British Cohort Study research which revealed the benefits of reading for pleasure for children’s English and maths skills. The findings, which were first published in 2013, have had a powerful and lasting impact on government policy and education practice in the UK and around the globe.

Dr Remington was nominated for her work to improve autistic people’s employment experiences. The research investigates what barriers exist when autistic people try to enter the workforce. And the project team works with companies to remove these barriers, promoting recruitment of autistic people into their organisation, and improving the support for their autistic employees.

The ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize, now in its eighth year, is an annual opportunity to recognise and celebrate the success of ESRC-funded researchers in achieving and enabling outstanding economic or societal impact from excellent research.