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Tessa LomaxDr Tessa Lomax is a Psychiatrist who is also undertaking an Academic Clinical Fellowship, including working as part of the team on the Oxford Health BRC Flourishing and Wellbeing theme.


Tell us a little about yourself, and what attracted you to studying/working at the University of Oxford?  

I grew up about an hour away from Oxford and originally wanted to study architecture. However, half way through my A Levels I decided to change to medicine and got a place at Cardiff medical school. There, I got interested in psychiatry and public health research and took a year out to undertake an intercalated BSc in global health at Imperial. After completing my medical degree and foundation years as a doctor, I was keen to continue pursuing a clinical academic career- working clinically as a doctor but also undertaking research. In this vein I applied for an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) at Oxford, where I could complete my core training in Psychiatry but also have 25 per cent of my time protected for research. I was drawn to Oxford not only for its reputation, but also the friendly experience I had at my interview, its beauty and it being a place close to my family and friends. 


What is your vision for the team/project/research you study/work with?

I am working with Professor Ilina Singh and her team as part of the Oxford Health BRC Flourishing and Wellbeing theme. I feel very inspired by the work taking place in the group, particularly its approach to cross-disciplinary working and thinking outside the box. So far, I have been working on a meta-review looking at the impact of nature on the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. This work sits on a backdrop of a big push by the UK government to use ‘green prescribing’ to improve mental health and address health inequalities. I have also been working with the group during my ACF on other areas in this field, focusing on interventions that may promote human flourishing but also flourishing of our planet (e.g. promoting biodiversity). I feel very passionate about thinking about how we may protect our planet as well as helping people. Unfortunately, my time as an ACF comes to an end in August, so I am currently trying to secure funding to undertake a DPhil to continue this work.



What is currently at the top of your To-Do List?

My main aim is to secure funding to do a DPhil. This is so I can carry out work that I have started with the group at the CAMHS PICU (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service Psychiatry Intensive Care Unit) to develop nature-based interventions in the unit. Drawing on my passion for nature and my believe in how our environment can help or hinder our well-being and flourishing, I hope to develop nature-interventions in the PICU that promote staff well-being and in turn improve patient care. I feel the psychiatric hospitals in Oxford are luckier that others across the country in regards to surrounding green space outside of the units, however the green space in the units themselves are very sparse (a pattern we see across the country in psychiatric hospitals). I hope my work will challenge the idea that having plants or a garden in a psychiatric facility would be too risky, unfruitful, unimportant or impossible to achieve. 


How did you get to where you are today?

Lots of hard work but also passion to learn. I would not have achieved what I have if I did not have a mindset of curiosity and love of learning. I think that is one thing that drew me to medicine and research - they are careers that require constant learning and adaptation and careers that may be challenging due to high work load and stress but careers that will never get boring. My clinical and research work also provides me with a great sense of purpose - trying to help those struggling with their mental health, who historically have been the most stigmatised and neglected patient population. 


Who or what inspires you?

I have been inspired by many people over my time. However, more recently I have been inspired by work of the Flourishing and Wellbeing theme/group, my clinical work including patients I have seen and clinicians I have worked with and also other research that is going on in the department, which is very diverse, inspiring and always exciting to hear about. 


If you were not in your study programme/job currently, what would you like to be doing?

I come from a very creative family - my dad being a sculptor and my mum doing a mixture of jobs, but being an excellent painter. I think I would do something to channel my creativity and spend as much time as I could outdoors in nature!