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Vashti Berry

Choices Logo

Choices Logo

Vashti - I am an Associate Professor in Prevention Science, working in the prevention and early intervention of children's psychosocial health difficulties. I am Director of the Children and Young People's Mental Health Research Collaboration (ChYMe) at Exeter and sit within the NIHR South West Peninsula Applied Research Collaboration (PenARC) where I lead work on children's health. My work is focused on services supporting children and families, particularly in the context of challenging family contexts such as domestic violence and abuse or reduced parenting capacity. I design and lead studies that answer pressing questions for commissioners, clinicians and practitioners working for and with children and families, often seeking a solution to the most effective way to prevent or intervene early in difficulties with their health and development. 

Kerryn - I work for the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South West Peninsula. I am a health services researcher and my interests are based around primary care, complex interventions and evidence synthesis. I lead a research programme around evidencing and developing non-NHS delivered interventions, including social prescribing pathways. I have worked closely with the National Academy for Social Prescribing in setting up their evidence collaborative, and also with Defra, DHSC and NHSE in evidencing the roll out of ‘green’ social prescribing.  

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Award Title: Project Grant

Start Date: 1st October 2021

End Date: 30 September 2023

Location of research: University of East London, University College London / Anna Freud Centre 

Collaborating OrganisationsUniversity of Exeter, University of Plymouth 

Project members:

  • Dr Vashti Berry 
  • Dr Kerryn Husk

Project Title: CHildren and young people’s Options In the Community for Enhancing wellbeing through Social prescribing (CHOICES) 

Brief Summary:  

This project will extend the growing evidence base around social prescribing in the primary care and public health arenas by focussing on its use for children and young people (CYP), and in particular prevention and early intervention in mental health conditions, which are a key growing concern for primary care, public health and education services. 

Our project examines the use of community-based wellbeing activities for CYP as a potential prevention and early intervention pathway by: 

  • Exploring how social prescribing schemes/pathways operate as a vehicle for assisting CYP to access, connect with and participate in community activities; and 
  • Understanding how diverse types of community-based support can create the conditions to promote adolescents’ healthy social and emotional development. 


There are two work packages, working with 5 existing social prescribing sites for young people aged 10-24. 

Work Package 1 includes: 

  • a mapping review of evidence on pathways for CYP accessing community activities; 
  • 8-10 interviews with young people and those identified as practitioners in each site to understand how referrals are made and who makes them (e.g. link workers in PCNs, GPs, schools, etc); and 
  • exploration of the use of routine administrative data and social network analysis to map how young people are usually seeking help, and which agencies are involved. 
  • Work Package 2 includes: 
  • a participatory community workshop in each site to explore young people’s understandings of ‘community’ (both offline and online, and the interactions between them), and 
  • in-depth interviews with 8-10 young people in each site to map networks of ‘trusted community organisations’ and uncover their role in supporting their mental health; 
  • a rapid review of qualitative research on community support for youth mental health. 

Benefits anticipated:

Outputs from Work Package 1 include a mapping review of how CYP travel through pathways; social network maps; evidence and data relating to the use of pathways on outcomes. Work Package 2 outputs include a conceptual map of ‘community’ according to young people and a rapid qualitative review of the evidence on community support for young people’s mental health. 

Knowledge mobilisation and transfer: With our Young People groups, we will co-produce summaries of findings in a variety of formats (blogs, podcasts, evidence summaries) for a variety of stakeholders, including families/communities, providers, policy makers, commissioners. We will hold dissemination events in all case study sites to transfer learning.