Emily Bampton is the Professional Youth Advisor to the UK side of the Wellcome Trust Global Mental Health Databank Project, in the Department of Psychiatry. Emily is working in Associate Professor Mina Fazel’s team.
Tell us a little about yourself, and what attracted you to studying/working at the University of Oxford?
Before joining the Department of Psychiatry in January 2021, I was working in the University of Oxford Childcare Services as a Finance Assistant. I left school at 17 and started working as an apprenticeship in relationship management at a bank. I really enjoyed the challenge of this role, thrown in at the deep end, I was dealing with multimillion pound businesses. It was a big learning curve and I got a lot from this experience.
I have plenty of experience of interacting with young people having been the Apprenticeship Ambassador for Oxfordshire Apprenticeships while at the bank, going back to give talks at my old secondary school, and winning Ambassador of the Year back in 2017!
I was already feeling like I needed a change months before I saw the job description for a Professional Youth Advisor at the Department of Psychiatry. When I read the job description, I felt like it was written for me, and with 5 years’ work experience already, I am still in the age range of the participants that the project is seeking to engage with. I have lived experience of mental health difficulties having suffered from anxiety since my teens. My interest in mental health has grown since then and I was keen to work in this area of mental health research.
What is your vision for the team/project/research you study/work with?
The best case scenario in my mind is that our project work helps to form a strong case for the future of this Global Mental Health Databank, beyond what is already planned for. The whole thing is a big fact finding mission and I hope that the information I gather and our team’s experiences will help to inform patient and public involvement throughout research in this area, as well as how to implement young people’s voices going forward.
What is currently at the top of your To-Do List?
Having spent the last few months making and building contacts to establish a Young People’s Advisory Group to take an active part in all stages of the research project. We have just selected 20 participants from a list of more than 300 young people. I now need to reach out to our final 20 and inform them about their success, then arrange our first Young People’s Advisory group introduction session.
I am really looking forward to getting to know the group and helping them to connect and develop a strong group bond, and to see how they help shape and build the research project together with the research team.
How did you get to where you are today?
Well, a decent amount of luck and a lot of seeking opportunities. I don’t believe you necessarily need to go to University to be successful. That said I am not ruling it out in the future.
However, I have found that having the good fortune to live in an affluent city with opportunities and particularly, apprenticeships, gave me my first taste of work experience. I also have the support of my parents, and I feel I have picked the best path for me, with the knowledge I had at the time, when making decisions. I have found that for me, not having a plan, has so far worked out well. Possibly being open in this way allows you to really navigate and search for what you might ‘love to do’, rather than ‘have to do’.
Who or what inspires you?
I value hearing from women who are independent and have found a happy balance in their lives. It’s really scary being young and seeing how expensive buying a home and living off of one salary is. I love listening to podcasts like the Break Up Monologues or the Financial Confessions and hearing how through life’s wobbly bits people still achieve happy multifaceted lives.
If you were not in your study programme/job currently, what would you like to be doing?
Honestly, I might have gone to University and studied business or finance. Working in finance has taught me I really love personal finance, it’s still an ambition of mine to help get a comprehensive personal finance class in the UK curriculum.
Also I love performing improvised and stand-up comedy, although I don’t think I would be lucky enough to make it my main job.