- Senior Investigator Scientist (MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit)
- Honorary Research Fellow (Institute of Health and Wellbeing)
Robert joined the MRC SPHSU in 2000, when he returned to Glasgow to join the Youth and Health Programme. He continued onto the Children, Young People, Families and Health programme and is currently is a member of the new Social Relationships and Health Improvement programme. He was involved in analysis of the ‘West of Scotland 11 to 16 study'. Since then, Robert has been involved in the design and data collection of several other studies, notably the continuation of 11 to 16 into the post-school period (16+ study), the ‘Teenage Health in School' (THiS) study, the psychiatric component of the ‘Peers and Levels of Stress' (PaLS) study. He is involved with several international collaborations with German and Swedish partners focusing on adolescent social relationships and their influence on victimisation, mental health, attempted suicide and self-injury.
Starting as a mature student, Robert graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology from Glasgow Caledonian University in 1996, then continuing with a further year of study to complete a post-graduate in Computer Studies. His first research post was at Charing Cross Medical School and Imperial College London in 1998, where he worked in an outpatient psychiatric clinic conducting psychometric assessment and research with gender dysphoric patients at the National Gender Identity Clinic. He retains a strong interest in gender related research and its influence on psychological health.
His work uses longitudinal methods, social network analysis and structural equation modelling to understand the impact of social relationships on young people’s mental health, be that parental, peer or online relationships. He is particularly interested in the relationship between mental health and peer-initiated sexual violence, harassment and victimisation, typically contrasting developmental and feminist perspectives. His work also contrasts the impact of traditional structural (class, poverty) vs. newer consumer and cultural influences on health. His ongoing research focuses on the prevalence of self-harm in young people and its relation to youth subculture, peer group and lifestyle, specifically ‘Alternative’ youth. His latest work explores the contagion of suicidal and self-injury among ‘real-life’ and ‘online’ social networks and the consequences for online policy and developing peer-led social interventions.