19 – 23 April 2021

A festival of online and virtual events hosted by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)

This site contains news, updates and resources from the Social Power and Mental Health steering group. Established with the support of CRASSH, the group was formed to organise a conference aimed at fostering better dialogue between researchers and those with lived experience of mental health challenges (as well as challenging these categories themselves).

Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, our conference is taking place as a festival of virtual events during the week 19 – 23 April 2021. Read on for more information about the conference—or check out our upcoming events, latest news, and art gallery. You can sign-up to our mailing list here.


Social Power and Mental Health: Evolving Research Through Lived Experience — A Conference


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?