"Cold Water" Researcher Joins Professor Ranks in Sussex

25 July 2022

The research into mental health and wellbeing at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been recognised with the appointment of a further member of its research team to a professorship.


Clara Strauss, Deputy Director of Research at Sussex Partnership and Professor of Clinical Psychology in the University of Sussex School of Psychology, co-leads the Sussex Mindfulness Centre and specialises in research into mindfulness and its relationship to wellbeing. As well as leading the Sussex OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Research Clinic, she has recently started leading a research project exploring the benefits of outdoor cold-water swimming to mental health.


Clara said: "I'm delighted our research has been recognised and I'm grateful for the hard work of colleagues who I've been fortunate to work with on a range of projects.  Successful research relies on collaboration between team members and the generosity of people who take part in the studies."

In her latest project, 'Outside', Clara is part of a team led by Dr Heather Massey from Portsmouth University, investigating whether cold-water swimming can help adults with depression, alongside a number of other Sussex Partnership staff including Hannah Denton, Sam Robertson and Anna-Marie Jones.

Clara said: "At any one time one in ten people in the UK experience depression and many will experience depression more than once. Exploring the benefits of cold-water swimming is an exciting piece of research as it could identify another option to people who suffer from what is sadly becoming a common condition."

Sussex Partnership is in the top 5 mental health Trusts in the UK, in terms of the number of participants recruited to high-quality  studies. Last year more than two thousand people took part in research within the Trust.

Professor Mark Hayward, Director of Research at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: "Research is an extremely important part of the work of the Trust. The pandemic has created additional need for mental health and wellbeing support right across the country and we're committed to finding the most effective ways of treating people who are in need of help."

Clara joins a group of six professors within the Trust who have led studies into a range of areas of mental health and wellbeing including psychosis, dementia, mind-body interactions, staff well-being, and young people's mental health. They work collaboratively with national and international research leaders to find new and innovative ways to help people with their mental health.

For more information about 'Outside' please visit the website, here.  

Further infomation: 

Sussex Partnership's research clinics bring together researchers and clinicians to implement and evaluate the latest interventions, thereby bridging the gap between research and clinical practice. All clinics work with service users (people with lived experience) to inform the service, research and treatments. Established clinics carry out research into voice-hearing, OCD, eating disorders and immunopsychiatry. New clinics are planned to support people with paranoia, neurodevelopmental conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and young people with emerging mental health problems through the school pathway.

Other Professors at Sussex Partnership are:

Prof David Fowler  who leads on research on the importance of social connectivity andSocial Recovery Therapy.

Prof Hugo Critchley who leads on neurobehavioural research and the complex links between the brain and body, such the link between hypermobility and anxiety, ADHT and Tourette's.

Prof Naji Tabet  who leads on dementia research in the region and is the head of clinical/drug trials from our Dementia Research Unit in Crowborough. 

Prof Kathryn Greenwood who leads on psychosis research and early intervention for better outcomes.Prof Mark Hayward who leads on research to develop therapies for people who are distressed by voice-hearing (Sussex Voices Clinic) as well as co-leads research at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, as Research Director, with Clara Strauss.