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Researcher Journal: My second year as a PhD student at the Wolfson Centre

20 March 2024

Hello lovely Wolfson blog readers!

My name is Abbey Rowe, and I am a 2nd year PhD research student working with both the Wolfson Centre for Young People’s Mental Health and DECIPher at Cardiff University. As we move again into the fantastic annual initiative that is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some updates on my three year research project that aligns with these celebrations.

On my first blog I told you all about the theme of my PhD, how my first year was going, and why I chose the Wolfson Centre. The main aim of my research is to understand the role that secondary schools play in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents with ADHD.

So, what has happened in the last year? Well…

  1. I conducted the first stage of my research (secondary data analysis)

This has been a long and challenging journey where I have had to learn from scratch how to use complex data analysis techniques (multilevel modelling) in a statistical computer programme called Stata that I had never used before.  I am still in the process of interpreting the findings from this analysis and have been extremely grateful for the support I have received from my supervisors and colleagues at Wolfson and DECIPHer, as well as external collaborators and researchers too. I have truly gained a sense of being part of a world-class research community that has helped me to progress along this complex journey!


  1. I attended an ADHD conference in Montpellier, France

Attending the international EUNETHYDIS 2023 conference was an incredible opportunity, not only to learn from leading experts in the field of ADHD research, but to present my first academic poster along with other early career researchers. The breadth of research being covered in this field was astounding and the weather was exceptional too!


  1. I consulted with young people, school staff and professionals about my research

Speaking to people within the education community that I am researching has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of this project so far. I believe that young people who identify as neurodivergent, and adults that work within education settings, are the experts here. Through talking to them about my project I was able to focus my research aims based on their direct input, which is outlined on this summary poster. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with these groups in the future for this project.


  1. I had the opportunity to meet with the Wolfson Youth Advisory Group (YAG)

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2023 was ‘Mental health is a universal human right’, and I was invited along to support discussions around this topic at the YAGs in-person meeting in spark|sbarc. They were such an inspiring group of young experts, who had so many fantastic ideas to share while creating a thought provoking social media campaign (Twitter and Instagram) to raise awareness of the important topic of the day.


This has just been a few highlights for me from the last year and I know I have another jam-packed year of experiences ahead of me to look forward to. I am currently in the process of signing up schools to take part in the second stage of my research that involves student and school staff interviews. It will be amazing to gain in depth insights into the specific characteristics of schools that may be supporting the mental health of young people with ADHD, directly from the perspectives of students and staff themselves.

If you would like to read more about my PhD:


I will be sure to provide another update in the future and welcome you to get in touch if you’d like to discuss anything that I have mentioned further. Have a wonderful Neurodiversity Celebration Week!


Connect with me:

Twitter: @AbbeyJRowe