Miranda Wolpert’s service to child and youth mental health is to be honoured with an MBE

31st December 2016 By: Anastasia Bow-Bertrand

The work of Professor Miranda Wolpert, Director of the Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU) at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and UCL, and Director of the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC), is to be acknowledged by the Queen in the New Year’s Honours List, it is announced today. 

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In recognition of over 25 years of dedicated service to improving mental health support for children, young people and families, Miranda is to be honoured with an MBE for founding EBPU, co-founding CORC and for services to children and young people’s mental health.

A clinical psychologist by background, Professor Wolpert’s career has focused on increasing the accessibility of the evidence base in child mental health to drive change, and advocating for the voice of children, young people and families to be placed at the heart of clinical practice and service development.

Miranda co-founded the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC) in 2002, a learning collaboration of mental health services, professionals and commissioners aiming to collect and use outcome evidence to improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing and founded the Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU) in 2006 as a collaboration between the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and UCL. The unit aims to bridge research and practice through research, clinical tools and training.

Miranda continues to be the Director of both organisations, and over the years they have both flourished. EBPU has successfully completed over 50 competitively awarded grant funded projects all aimed at enhancing understanding and practice in child mental health. CORC is the world’s leading organisation on using child outcome measures to create quality services with over 65 member organisations from across the health and education sectors.

Miranda is also National Informatics Lead at NHS England for the Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) programme, a programme of work that seeks to transform the way services support children and families with mental health problems.

Miranda has taken this opportunity to reflect on her achievements and next steps.

I feel this honour is truly shared with all the people I work with and for. I am privileged to work with such talented and committed people, dedicated to finding the best ways to support child mental health and wellbeing. These are challenging times, but I feel we are making real progress in understanding how we best help young people manage mental health difficulties and achieve the goals in life that are most important to them.

Key achievements over the years:

The Child Outcomes Research Consortium is a collaboration of therapists and others who voluntarily choose to seek to consider the impact of their work by monitoring progress using self-report questionnaires and tools to elicit feedback from their clients. Members to the collaboration use the information collected, whilst acknowledging all the flaws and uncertainty in the data, to challenge themselves and others to constantly review and refine practice.

The Evidence Based Practice Unit seeks to make evidence and information accessible to practitioners, young people and families, including summarising the research evidence for different interventions in child friendly forms. Current work of the unit focusses on considering how to understand and address risk factors that affect child mental health, how to promote resilience, how to support choice in different forms of help for those who need help, and how to create positive change for those with mental health difficulties. The unit is particularly committed to working closely with those with lived experience of mental health difficulties who contribute directly to project work. The unit prioritises creating and evaluating tools to enhance service-user voices, thereby rebalancing client/professional dynamics. A new PhD programme launched this year in evidence based Child and Adolescent Mental Health helps to grow the next generation of researchers in the field.

The New Year is as good a time as any to reflect, but also to look ahead and set new resolutions. For me, the key issue that is preoccupying me for 2017, is how we can develop a common understanding and approaches to helping children with mental health difficulties that moves away from thinking of mental health and wellbeing support for young people and families as being provided by child and youth mental health services, and recognise the contributions of resilience-building interventions in the community. Our THRIVE model of service provision is one way forward in this regard. Core to such an approach, it increasingly seems to me, is the ability to have more honest conversations about the limitations of current treatment options. This requires greater clarity about what outcomes we are seeking to achieve and how we will collaboratively know if we have achieved them. Work in conjunction with the Philosophy Department of Oxford University and Palliative Care Team and Central North West London NHS Trust which was initiated this year has started these conversations and we plan follow up events and training in 2017 to take these important conversations forward.

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre, said: "We are bristling with pride that Miranda, one of the great pioneers of the new generation of children’s mental health services in this country, has been recognised in this way. It is a tribute both to her as an extraordinarily brilliant innovator of services and to her colleagues, who she has inspired over the years to work with an amazing commitment to our shared aspiration of creating a better world for children and young people with mental health problems."

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