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Robert Barrowcliff

Part-time PhD Student

Robert Barrowcliff

Research title: Do mental health nurses know enough about autism spectrum disorders to be able to recognise them in people presenting with mental health problems and to be able to support them effectively?

Supervisors: Professor Gail Mountain and Dr. Tracy McClelland.

I am a registered mental health nurse and work part-time as a clinical practitioner for Bradford District Foundation Trust, whilst studying for my PhD on a part-time basis at the University of Bradford.

I have developed a growing interest in autism combined with mental illness since practicing as a nurse.

The Autism Act (2009) and subsequent Autism Strategy (2014) recommend that mental health practitioners require ongoing and specialist training in relation to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However recent studies suggest that ASDs continue to be understated in training for nurses and health professionals in general, reducing the ability to acknowledge this condition and care for patients who have this condition appropriately.

I wanted to explore this further and to determine strategies that can be applied to improve the recognition of autism spectrum disorders in patients with mental health conditions, and ascertain how this acknowledgement can be used to contribute towards more effective and sustainable care.

In 2014 I applied to the University of Bradford and was awarded a PhD studentship, enabling me to examine this subject further.