Postvention Research Being Conducted at the University of New England, Australia
Currently, there are very few researchers in the UK who specialise in suicide bereavement. In fact, when I was conducting my PhD, I didn’t know of anyone in the UK who was working in this field. So, you can imagine my excitement when Dr. Myf Maple (Australia’s leading researcher) invited me to the University of New England, to learn about the research that her department is currently conducting. This might come as a surprise but this was the first time that I had ever visited a department were all the researchers specialise in suicide bereavement research.
Dr. Myf Maple is an Associate Professor in the School of Health at the University of New England (UNE). The UNE and their five partners (which include four other universities and a local health district) have recently been awarded 4.8 million dollars from the Australian government to establish a Collaborative Research Network (CRN) on Mental Health and Well-being in Rural and Regional Communities. Myf is the Deputy Lead of the Collaborative Research Network which focuses on Self Care and Mental Health. https://www.une.edu.au/research/research-centres-and-institutes/crn-mental-health
Myf’s research focuses on the experiences and needs of those bereaved by suicide. Her team are currently conducting several studies examining aspects of this experience with a variety of populations and sub-groups, including broad community based samples. Myf is also developing a strong international profile in America.
I spent three full days with Myf. During that time I gave a seminar at the University of New England on the research that I am currently conducting and met several members of her staff who are conducting various studies. It is possible to suggest that Myf’s postvention department is a virtual one, in that many of her staff are PhD students and study via distance learning. For example, one of her students is based in Adelaide another researcher is based in Melbourne. The UNE is geared for distance learning, unlike most universities in the UK and therefore, it is commonplace to hold meetings via a video link. Now this way of working is totally alien to me. Myf, informed me that she would be introducing me to many of her staff via the video link. Looking back I have to laugh, as I have never conducted meetings this way I had visions of me shouting to this massive screen– just like people used to do, when mobile phones were first introduced! (probably looking like an eccentric academic, with a huge forehead that has never set foot out of her office). Anyway, I was reliably informed that I didn’t shout. To be honest, once I got going I forgot I was talking to a screen.
During the next couple of posts I will discuss the meetings in the order that they were held. However, for this post I will focus on the seminar were I presented findings from the research that I am currently conducting. This study is funded by the Department of Health and aims to develop a training pack for health professionals to guide them on how to respond to parents bereaved by suicide. The research team include me, Professor Nav Kapur, Professor Jenny Shaw, John Peters and Dr.Lis Cordingley from the University of Manchester and Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham from the University of Keele. Please click on the link below to view the presentation.
I would like to thank Dr. Maple for spending three days with me to inform me of her research.