Social Power and Mental Health: Evolving Research Through Lived Experience

21 April 2021 - 22 April 2021

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

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Andrew Deller 

Ed Kiely 

Graham Martin 

Iliana Rokkou 

Sam Strong 

Social Power and Mental Health Steering Group


Keynote speakers

Rachel Waddingham

Imogen Tyler



Peter Beresford

Sarah Carr

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?


Registration Fees

Full fee and donation £65 (Includes donation (pays towards someone with lived experience to attend the conference), 2 day registration and lunch, tea/coffee)

Full fee £45 (includes 2 day registration, lunch and tea/coffee)

Student fee £30 (incudes 2 day registration, lunch and tea/coffee)





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Supported by

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

Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

Department of Geography

Encompass Network

Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness

Homerton College

Jesus College


If you have any specific accessibility needs for this event please get in touch. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.

Conference assistance:

Wednesday 25 March

11.00 – 12.15


12.15 - 12.45

Lunch and Informal Introductions

12.45 - 13.00

Welcome and Opening

13.00 – 14.20

Session 1: Stigma and Survival

Chair: Elmira Zadissa


Alex Leon: I’m Brown, I’m Gay, and That’s Okay: Mental Health and Wellbeing on the Intersection of Marginalised Identities

Joanna Landeryou: My Experience of Stigma, Discrimination, Power Inequality and Coercion in the Mental Health Services Over a 25 Year History. What This Has Meant for Me

Local journey 1: Jo Fox

Sarah Carr: A ‘Special Problem’: Construction and Treatment of Female Homosexuality in England 1950-1970

Local journey 2: Michael Brown

14.20 – 15.00

Break (tea and coffee)

15.00 – 16.00

Group Discussion: Challenging Inequalities and Claiming Social Power 

16.00 – 16.25


16.30 – 18.00

Session 2: Psychiatry and Other Systems

Chair: Andrew Deller


Wendy Burn: The Stigma of Mental Illness, a View From the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Ruth Smith and Anna Smith : Chemical Imbalance or Social Power Imbalance?

Neil Armstrong and Lamis Bayar: Power and Its Surprises: Locating and Dis-Locating Asymmetries in Mental Healthcare

Simon Duffy: Peer Supporter as Leaders in Community Development

Local journey 3: Wendy Clarke

18.00 – 18.30

Break (Tea and Coffee)

18.30 – 20.00

Keynote 1:  Imogen Tyler – Stigma Power: Mental Distress in Austerity Britain

Discussant: Camice Revier

Thursday 26 March

12.00 - 13.00

Lunch and Welcome

Poster Presentation

13.00 – 14.30

Session 3: Social Inequalities and Justice

Chair: Ann Galpin


Rianna Walcott: On Mental Health Support Access and Treatment Outcomes for Black Patients

Peter Beresford: Challenging the Psychiatrisation of Politics and the Politics of Psychiatry

Helen Spandler: Restorative Justice: A Radical Approach to Mental Health Reform?

Dorothy Gould: We Want Power Too: Perspectives From Service Users and Survivors From LGBTQ+ Communities

14.30 – 15.00


15.00 – 16.30

Keynote 2: Rai Waddingham: Listening to ‘Mad’ Voices in a Crazy World​

Discussant: Michael Brown

16.30 – 17.00


17.00 – 18.30

Session 4: Activism and Hope

Chair: Camice Revier


Samuel Hosking: Lessons to Be Learned From the Experience of Funding Cuts to Mental Health Services at Lifecraft

Keira Pratt-Boyden: Stigma and Social Power: Mental Health Activism in London

Liz Rotherham: Building Resilience

Annie Whilby: BP(h)D

18.30 – 19.00

Break (Tea and Coffee)

19.00 – 20.00

Final workshop: Towards a Local Agenda for Action