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Emma Soneson


Senior Postdoctoral Researcher

Emma is pleased to consider applications from prospective MSc & DPhil students with interest in child and adolescent mental health, school mental health, or public mental health.


I am a mixed methods researcher in child and adolescent mental health whose research interests range from psychiatric epidemiology to intervention development and evaluation. I am especially interested in public health approaches, the intersections between education and mental health, and ways in which we can support schools to take a central role in mental health promotion and prevention.

I currently work on the OxWell Student Survey (PI Prof Mina Fazel), a large schools-based survey exploring a wide range of factors related to child and adolescent mental health and wellbeing. During my PhD, I used the data from this survey to explore vulnerable adolescents' access to and unmet need for mental health services and assess children's and adolescents' perceptions of school-based mental health support. My ongoing research within the OxWell Student Survey focuses on how to ensure that mental health support is available, accessible, and acceptable to children and adolescents, particularly those from minoritised and marginalised populations. 

I also work closely with BrainWaves, an innovative new programme that includes the (1) development of a new cohort study of adolescent mental health and wellbeing, (2) creation of a new trials platform to evaluate school-based mental health interventions, and (3) development of evidence-based educational materials for schools. As part of this work, I am co-leading a mixed-methods randomised controlled trial ('The BrainWaves Adolescent Consent Study') to assess whether the way in which we obtain informed consent impacts adolescents' participation in (mental) health research. This trial will enable us to learn how we can empower young people to confidently take part in research. 

Prior to joining the department, I completed a PhD in Psychiatry (2022) and an MPhil in Public Health (2017) at the University of Cambridge. My PhD research, funded by the Gates Cambridge Trust and UKRI Emerging Minds Network, focused on how we can use public health approaches to improve early identification and intervention for child and adolescent mental health difficulties and was awarded the Cambridge Clinical School's Milo Keynes Prize for Outstanding Dissertation. In addition to the OxWell analyses described above, my PhD research involved two applied studies, the first of which aimed to establish stakeholder consensus regarding school-based identification programmes and the second to explore the feasibility of an online mental health training programme for primary school staff.

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