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Kat Wheatley – Research Assistant

I am delighted to have joined the Sussex DETERMIND team in July 2022, having been welcomed with nothing but smiles (and plenty of coffee!). DETERMIND is a project close to my heart because my family is personally affected by dementia, so I feel truly honoured to have the opportunity to support other families to have their voices heard in future policy. I am particularly excited to help tackle the inequalities and inequities in dementia care which are currently impacting our communities, as I believe everyone is entitled to high quality and effective care.

My interest in mental health was initially inspired at the University of Nottingham, where I was first introduced to research exploring the therapeutic potential of various addictive substances. Since then, I have pursued a clinical career as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, supporting adults to manage common mental health difficulties using low-intensity CBT. A highlight of my time in this role was working with adults with long-term health conditions to support their wellbeing by increasing their physical activity. I hope this experience will make me an asset to the DETERMIND team and our supporting role in the ACTIVDEM project.

Alongside my clinical career I have also been lucky enough to pursue my other passion in life as a rock-climber and climbing coach, a role which has enabled me to integrate physical and mental training to help people achieve their goals. From my experience, the benefits which ensue extend beyond the sport itself – an observation which inspired my first published article Exploring the Relationship between Rock-Climbing and Mindfulness. I hope the skillset I will develop while on the DETERMIND project will equip me to further this research down the line.

In the future, I plan to pursue a Clinical or Research Doctorate programme, which will enable me to contribute to developing innovative and sustainable new therapeutic mediums. I am particularly keen to support the NHS forward view to better integrate our physical and mental health services with a focus on the unique benefits of various physical activities. But for now, I cannot wait to get stuck in with the DETERMIND team and start working with our lovely participants.