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Sociological Perspectives on the Mental Health and Wellbeing Agenda in Educational Settings

A one-day conference hosted by the Education Observatory, University of Wolverhampton and the BSA Sociology of Mental Health Study Group

9 June 2021 (9:30am-3:30pm BST)
A virtual event via Zoom - Download Abstracts

About the Event

In the UK and other countries, there is currently a salient mental health and wellbeing agenda. This agenda is playing out in education policy across the education system, including schools, colleges and universities, as well as in adult community learning (ACL), early years settings and workplace training. In formal education, a key driver has been heightened concerns about children and young people’s mental health, and the importance of the agenda has been ratcheted up by the recent COVID-19 crisis. Educational settings have been viewed as key sites for intervention. For adults, some shifts in mental health policy towards social, as opposed to medical, responses to mental health need have strengthened the role educational services such as ACL can play within this public health arena.

In this wide-ranging social, political and policy context, the aim of this symposium is to explore the mental health and wellbeing policy agenda in education critically across different settings, including schooling, further and higher education, adult community learning and work-based learning. Speaking from multiple national contexts, comntributors will draw on the insights offered by sociological perspectives to explore the questions, problems and dilemmas raised by the mental health and wellbeing agenda for education. This will involve scrutinizing the educational, social and political effects of the discourses being adopted and the kinds of responses to perceived need being advocated for educational settings, and seeking to identify links between developments across a range of sectors. We will also consider possible responses to the agenda for education practitioners and policy-makers and what critical education practice can contribute in this area.

Draft Programme


Welcome – Dr Lydia Lewis and Professor Michael Jopling,

Education Observatory, University of Wolverhampton


Introduction, Dr Lydia Lewis, The mental health and wellbeing agenda in educational settings: themes and debates


Keynote presentation, Professor Kristiina Brunila, University of Helsinki, Finland, Towards desired futures? Future trajectories of precision education governance.


11.00-11.15am - Break


Roundtable session 1: Schools


Professor Michael Jopling, University of Wolverhampton, Vulnerabilities and mental health in schools

Professor Maria Tsouroufli, Brunel University, London, Gendered and racialized ‘vulnerabilities’: The Intersectionality of violence and mental health in schools in the UK 

Dr Josie Maitland, University of Chichester, Whole school approaches to promoting wellbeing : understanding schools as complex social systems 


12.15-12.20pm – Break



Roundtable session 2: Universities


Dr Alex Wade and Dr Fadia Dakka, Birmingham City University,             Non-Times from Non-Places: Space and Time in the Everyday Life of Post-graduate Research  Students

Professor Danielle Landry, Ryerson University, Canada, Mad student organizing and the emergence of Mad Studies in Canada.


1.05-1.30pm – Lunch

1.30 – 2.15pm

Roundtable session 3: Further education and work-based learning


Catherine Lisseman, University of Wolverhampton and Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Drawing on our emotional intelligence during the pandemic: tales from the NHS front line.

Professor Rob Smith and Dr Jonathan Gadsby, Birmingham City University, Mental health and further education: what role for mental health nurses?

2.15-2.20pm – Break


Roundtable session 4: Adult community learning


Dr Lydia Lewis, University of Wolverhampton, How Should we Respond to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Agenda in Adult Community Learning? Exploring the role of creative arts provision

Professor Mick Mckeown, University of Central Lancashire, Critical pedagogy and mental health in a cooperative education centre: re-imaginings for worker and political learning.


Plenary discussion – key points arising and implications for research, policy and practice


The event is free to attend, but registration is required. 

Organiser and Chair: Dr Lydia Lewis, Institute of Education, University of Wolverhampton