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“Cold Water” Researcher Joins Professor Ranks in Sussex

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The research into mental health and wellbeing at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been recognised with the appointment of a further member of its research team to a professorship.

Clara Strauss, Deputy Director of Research at Sussex Partnership and Professor of Clinical Psychology in the University of Sussex School of Psychology, co-leads the Sussex Mindfulness Centre and specialises in research into mindfulness and its relationship to wellbeing. As well as leading the Sussex OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Research Clinic, she has recently started leading a research project exploring the benefits of outdoor cold-water swimming to mental health.

Clara said: “I’m delighted our research has been recognised and I’m grateful for the hard work of colleagues who I’ve been fortunate to work with on a range of projects.  Successful research relies on collaboration between team members and the generosity of people who take part in the studies.”

In her latest project, ‘Outside’, Clara is part of a team in collaboration with Dr Heather Massey from Portsmouth University, investigating whether cold-water swimming can help adults with depression. Clara said:

“At any one time one in ten people in the UK experience depression and many will experience depression more than once. Exploring the benefits of cold-water swimming is an exciting piece of research as it could identify another option to people who suffer from what is sadly becoming a common condition.”

Sussex Partnership is in the top 5 mental health Trusts in the UK, in terms of the number of participants recruited to high-quality  studies. Last year more than two thousand people took part in research within the Trust.

Professor Mark Hayward, Director of Research at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Research is an extremely important part of the work of the Trust. The pandemic has created additional need for mental health and wellbeing support right across the country and we’re committed to finding the most effective ways of treating people who are in need of help.”

Clara joins a group of six professors within the Trust who have led studies into a range of areas of mental health and wellbeing including psychosis, dementia, mind-body interactions, staff well-being, and young people’s mental health. They work collaboratively with national and international research leaders to find new and innovative ways to help people with their mental health.

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