Social Power and Mental Health: Evolving Research Through Lived Experience

25 March 2020 - 26 March 2020

SG1/2, CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

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Andrew Deller (Lifecraft)

Ed Kiely (University of Cambridge)

Graham Martin (University of Cambridge)

Iliana Rokkou (CPFT)

Sam Strong (University of Cambridge)

Social Power and Mental Health Steering Group


Keynote speakers:

Rachel Waddingham

Prof Imogen Tyler



Prof Peter Beresford

Dr Sarah Carr

Prof Helen Spandler

Rianna Walcott



This conference seeks to create dialogue between two forms of expertise. It will bring together people with lived experience of mental health challenges and researchers, with the aim of starting conversations between these two groups of experts. We also recognise that many people belong in both groups.

Our theme is the link between social power and mental health. Disempowered social groups are at an increased risk of mental health issues. They are more likely to face difficult economic, social and environmental conditions. Gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disabilities and social class intersect with these. What are the latest research findings on these topics? How do they compare with lived experiences? When might research worsen mental health challenges? What kinds of methods can produce empowerment?

We will also reflect on the social context of mental health, power and inequality. While mental wellbeing is now being discussed widely, stigma remains significant. And people who are already disempowered are much more likely to be labelled ‘mentally ill’. How does stigma link to social power? What is the role of psychiatric services and the welfare state? How are power inequalities reinforced, and how can we challenge them? How do we work towards a future where everyone can openly share their lived experiences, be valued for their contribution and appropriately supported in their endeavours?

The conference has been designed with people who have used psychiatric services in Cambridgeshire. Our speakers include social scientists, psychiatrists, psychologists and service users/survivors. Throughout there will be group discussions with local people who have experience of mental health challenges.

Our intent is for people with lived experience to take the lead as we explore the many intersections between mental health and social power. The conference aims to place research expertise and the expertise of experience on an equal footing. We want to work together to find gaps in knowledge, and then outline a future research agenda to address these. How can we challenge power inequalities in, and through, research? And how can we evolve research by valuing lived experience?


Please let us know if you have any access requirements that you would like to discuss with us. Financial support is available for people who are unwaged or on low incomes.


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Supported by:

Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)

Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness

Homerton College

Jesus College


Administrative assistance: