Vanessa is interested in researching how psychosocial and cognitive capabilities, motivations and behaviours of young people intersect with their experiences across physical and digital environments affect their help seeking, mental health and wellbeing.
She aspires to involve and empower all young people to voice their perspectives in mental health research through co-development of innovative ‘real world’ methodology. Through her work for the Oxford Health BRC, Vanessa has developed an interest in researching and working with young people to define meaningful involvement and extend opportunities and benefits for diverse young people.
Vanessa has worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Oxford/Oxford Health BRC since September 2019. She leads a group of about 30 members of the Young People’s Advisory Group (NeurOX YPAG; aged 14–19 years; https://begoodeie.com/ypag/) who are keen to contribute to research in mental health and ethics and support their peers.
Between March 2020 and April 2021, YPAG members were involved in over 20 digital research meetings, a reimbursed virtual work experience week and off-line research across the following projects:
- Covid Peer Support Study (collaboration with The McPin Foundation)
- Childline on-line peer support message board study: NSPCC/Childline/Emerging Minds
- PERL Lab/Wellcome project on antidepressant use in young people (collaboration with The McPin Foundation)
- Oxford Health BRC/NeurOX diversity project to explore widening of participation of young people in research and support other researchers to set up YPAGs
- Nottingham University Seasonal Antidepressant Use study
NSPCC/Childline Message Board Project
Emerging Minds collaborative cross sector placement between the NSPCC/Childline and NEUROSEC Group. Leading this short-term co-produced project, I involved 10 young researchers from the NeurOX YPAG to characterise the ‘real world voices’ and peer-interactions of young people with experience of emotional/psychological maltreatment who access the Childline peer-support online message boards. The lived experiences of young people in the research offered some nuanced perspectives to interpret the language and help-seeking needs of their peers and inform the further development of Childline online services. https://emergingminds.org.uk/understanding-online-help-seeking-of-young-people-via-the-childline-moderated-online-peer-peer-message-boards/
Covid Peer Support Study
Contributing to all aspects of this project and working with the young people from priority setting and consultation through to dissemination was a rewarding experience. This collaboration between Neurosec, University College London, The McPin Foundation and Youth Era involved a randomised wait-list controlled feasibility study explored the impact of peer support training on young people’s wellbeing and feelings of connection with others. https://oxneurosec.com/coping/
NIHR Oxford Health BRC
With the NeurOX YPAG, we have explored more inclusive and meaningful involvement of young people in mental health research using digital approaches.
The following resources share the experiences of young people and researchers to encourage and widen meaningful involvement of young people in research: https://oxfordhealthbrc.nihr.ac.uk/patient-and-public-involvement/young-peoples-involvement/
BeGOOD Citizen's EIE projects
Other projects supported:
- BeGood Citizen's: EIE projects working with the NeurOX Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) for the past year.
- NEUROSEC Team and the YPAG on the ‘Tracing Tomorrow’ study to explore young people’s perspectives on mental help seeking and data privacy using a narrative digital game approaches.
Vanessa previously worked as a Research Assistant in the Psychology Group at Oxford Brookes University as an IDS-2 Test Administrator, piloting of adjustments for the Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH) and Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2 refinement of MAB-C2 and a departmental Open Science Development project.
For over 20 years, Vanessa’s earlier career as Account Director, Medical Writer and freelance consultant involved strategic medical education/communication planning and implementation for international pharmaceutical companies with experience across a range of therapy areas and clinical development stages.
- MSc in Psychology from Oxford Brookes University, with my thesis investigating the effects of cognitive load and anxiety on prospective memory in adolescents.
- MSc in Veterinary Parasitology from The University of Liverpool.
- BSc in Animal Biology from The University of Birmingham.
Rosemary Musesengwa, Vanessa Bennett, Kiran Manku, Biggy Dziro, Sapfo Lignou, Kudzai Kanyere, and Peter Lewis. International perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on community engagement of young people for involvement in mental health research, p139. In: COVID-19 and Co-production in Health and Social Care Research, Policy, and Practice, Volume 2: Co-production Methods and Working Together at a Distance. Eds. Oli Williams, Doreen Tembo, Josephine Ocloo, Meerat Kaur, Gary Hickey, Michelle Farr, and Peter Beresford, Policy Press, Bristol, 2021
Poster: Bennett V, Hinkley L, Morys-Carter W, MacLean M. Cognitive strategies while prospective remembering in mid-late adolescence. Poster presented at the British Psychological Society Joint Cognitive and Developmental Psychology Section Annual Meeting 2019, 2–4th September 2019, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, UK. http://bit.ly/PM_adolescence
Delegate poster prize winner.
Invited extended abstract: Bennett V, Hinkley L, Morys-Carter W, MacLean M. Cognitive strategies while prospective remembering in mid-late adolescence. The Cognitive Psychology Bulletin. Spring 2020. The British Psychological Society, Leicester. ISSN: 2397-2653