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Our First ECR Networking Event

On the 22nd of September, we hosted our first EMH Early Career Researcher Networking event. This event was open to anyone who considered themselves an Early Career Researcher (ECR).

During the event we had some fantastic talks on current and ongoing research from ECRs. The Suicide Cultures research team gave an interesting and engaging collaborative talk which gave great insight into the role ECRs have played in the project. They highlighted how having creative freedom allowed them to have input into the design of the projects and the methods used had benefitted the project, as well as both the researchers themselves and the participants involved.

One thing I found extremely interesting - and something that could be adopted by other researcher and research teams - was to take time out of the research and check in with each other to help process anything that may be impacting them while dealing with such an emotional subject matter. This practice could be something that may allow any researcher involved in mental health research to care for their own mental health. We often investigate areas which can have a personal impact especially, but not exclusively, when we are interacting directly with those with lived experiences and their families and support networks.

We also had a talk on a relatively understudied area of mental health research (Postpartum Psychosis) which generated a lot of discussion about the problems potentially facing researchers interested in underrepresented areas, including access to appropriate resources, and the difficulty posed in identifying potential collaborators when you are relatively new to a research field.

An important aim of the event was to provide ECRs with a space to ask their questions of the EMH network or raise any concerns they have. The support of ECRs is an important goal for the EMH network, and to best that we need to hear about what ECRs need and want in terms of support.

The attendees found that current ideas on support from the network were of interest to them (more details to come), and they also presented some of their own ideas, including more networking event to allow a space for ECRs and others to present their research and hear feedback from peers in different areas.

We also had an interesting talk from Edinburgh Innovations' iTPA which highlighted some of the support available to ECRs to help them in translational and entrepreneurial activities. This showcased some of the other potential opportunities open to ECRs that many were not aware of before the event.

Obviously, it is not a networking event without time set aside for people to eat, wander around and chat with other attendees. This open networking facilitated a lot of discussion that had been generated by the talks during the event, about individual research, available resources, upcoming events, and potential collaborations. Being in the networking session and witnessing all of this come about so naturally was amazing to see and was exactly what we had hoped for when we organised this event. It was great to have ECRs from across many Schools come together for this event and be so keen to engage with ECRs they were unfamiliar with and discuss mental health research.

We feel this event was a success in introducing many different ECRs, at many different career stages and from a variety of Schools, to each other and to further strengthen relationships within the mental health research community. So, keep your eyes peeled for future events just like this.

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