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PhD in Developmental Psychiatry - Optimizing outcomes in children of depressed parents: Identification of modifiable promoters of sustained mental health resilience

Project Description

The PhD will use longitudinal research methods and data from high-risk and population studies to identify modifiable protective factors that promote mental health resilience in children of depressed parents.
Over 1 million children in the UK live with a parent with depression. They are at high risk of depression and other mental health problems. These can have a deep and long-lasting impact on young people’s education, relationships and future health. However, whilst some develop serious mental health difficulties, others are surprisingly resilient. This project focuses on protective factors that help promote good mental health in high-risk and population-based studies that track the development of children of depressed parents into adult life. Previous work has pointed to important modifiable child, family, social and lifestyle factors that could be targeted by mental health intervention to prevent future mental health difficulties. However, the long-term benefits of these protective factors remain unclear. The scholarship will involve new research examining predictors of long-term mental health resilience in children of depressed parents in high-risk and unselected population cohorts. These children are now in their 20s. Young adulthood is a particularly important time, when mental health problems often first emerge and when young people often face major challenges in their lives – leaving home, going to University, gaining employment or starting a family of their own. The objectives of the study are to 1) identify modifiable predictors of mental health resilience; 2) understand why, when and how protective factors have beneficial effects on mental health; and 3) work with affected families to develop new guidelines for promoting mental health in young people at risk for depression. This PhD project provides a unique opportunity to develop advanced methodological and analytic skills in the field of developmental psychiatry. The student will join a well-established collaboration between experienced researchers in world-leading Mental Health research centres at Cardiff and Bristol.


Applicants should possess a minimum of an upper second class Honours degree, master’s degree, or equivalent in a relevant subject.
Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS)

Candidates’ application forms are assessed against the criteria below. The final selection will be based on the qualities and performance of the student and will be competitive between all students according to the criteria listed below.
• Proven academic quality: normally evidenced by an excellent performance to first degree and/or Master’s level in psychology or related discipline, but may also be demonstrated by a record of relevant professional practice.
• Research potential: evidenced through their supporting statement and supported by performance in research projects at first degree and/or Master’s level, or another form of dedicated preparation for research.
• Personal motivation and commitment: evidenced through their supporting statement, by their enthusiasm for the project area and how they see it relating to their career goals.
• Existing knowledge and expertise in relevant areas of developmental psychology, psychiatry or epidemiology
• Quantitative skills: We are seeking candidates with a strong quantitative background so those with a high grade at Maths A level or similar, and/or who have experience of analysis of quantitative data in addition to a suitable degree will be prioritised.


This studentship has a start date of October 2020.
In order to be considered you must submit a formal application via Cardiff University’s online application service. (To access the system click ’Apply Online’ at the bottom of this advert)
There is a box at the top right of the page labelled ‘Apply’, please ensure you select the correct ‘Qualification’ (Doctor of Philosophy), the correct ‘Mode of Study’ (Full Time) and the correct ‘Start Date’ (October 2020). This will take you to the application portal.
In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information:

• Supporting statement
• CV
• Qualification certificates
• References x 2 (optional)
• Proof of English language (if applicable)

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select I wish to apply for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health PhD Scholarship 2020

Funding Notes

The studentship is generously funded by Mental Health Research UK for the duration of 4 years.

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Open to all UK/EU students without further restrictions
Full UK/EU tuition fees
Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum.
Additional funding is available over the course of the programme and will cover costs such as Travel and Conference allowances.

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