prudence trust research fellow
I am a Prudence Trust Research Fellow in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. I am also an honorary lecturer at UCL.
My group’s work focuses on mental health and social development in adolescence. I am particularly interested in whether efforts intended to reduce mental health problems, such as awareness-raising campaigns and school initiatives, may inadvertently increase these problems in some individuals.
Our current research projects including the following:
- Understanding how school-based mental health interventions might lead to unintended harm in adolescents, and who is most at risk
- Assessing how learning about mental health problems might change adolescents’ reporting of these symptoms
- Exploring self-diagnosis of mental health problems in adolescence and its relationship to identity development at this age
In the past I have also focused on social cognition in adolescents, particularly social risk, social reward and social influence processes, and how these are related to mental health problems.
We use a range of methods in our work, including experimental designs, scale development, longitudinal analysis and systemic review/meta-analysis. I am increasingly interested in using qualitative approaches to address questions that quantitative methods cannot reach.
I have extensive experience of public science communication. My first book, What Mental Illness Really Is (…and what it isn’t), is out now in paperback (Penguin Random House). It was published as Losing Our Minds in hardback in 2021. I am currently writing my next book, about adolescent development, due for publication in summer 2024 (Penguin Random House). I regularly give public talks about mental health (e.g. Royal Institution), frequently discuss this topic on podcasts and radio (e.g. BBC's All In The Mind, Guardian Science), and have written many articles for the mainstream media (e.g. The Guardian, New Scientist).
Overmedicalization of young people’s distress is undermining and disempowering families
Fergusson E. et al, (2023), Nature Mental Health, 1, 381 - 382
Do Adolescents Like School-Based Mindfulness Training? Predictors of Mindfulness Practice and Responsiveness in the MYRIAD Trial.
Montero-Marin J. et al, (2023), J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry
Associations between age, social reward processing and social anxiety symptoms
Kilford EJ. et al, (2023), Current Psychology
Are mental health awareness efforts contributing to the rise in reported mental health problems? A call to test the prevalence inflation hypothesis
Foulkes L. and Andrews JL., (2023), New Ideas in Psychology, 69, 101010 - 101010
Do no harm: can school mental health interventions cause iatrogenic harm?
Foulkes L. and Stringaris A., (2023), BJPsych Bulletin, 1 - 3