Full-Time PhD Studentship in Storytelling, Animation and Mental Health Literacy

We are currently inviting applications for a fully-funded 3-year PhD studentship, based in the School of Design and Creative Arts at Loughborough University. The studentship is based within the Storytelling Academy which conducts research into the application of storytelling in the key areas of health, environment, education and social justice.

The studentship is linked to an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project on storytelling and animation for mental health literacy amongst young people, in collaboration with the Institute for Mental Health (University of Nottingham), London School of Economics, the Mental Health Foundation, Buzz Consulting and Aardman (Bristol). A project summary follows:

This collaborative study will examine whether animated stories can assist young people in building awareness of and responding to mental health challenges. Typically, young people face multiple and significant barriers regarding their mental health. They may be unaware that they need help in the first place or where to access support. While such an audience may be emotionally intelligent, they can lack both the mental health literacy and finances to access timely help – something highly valued when facing very stressful periods, for example, around examination times.  It is at such points that young people struggle to allocate time to seek support. 

Our central question is: Can co-created, animated stories and companion app increase young people’s mental health literacy?

This study brings together expertise in world-beating animation, health and the arts and humanities alongside a scientific, social and behavioural evaluative layer that seeks to advance transformative impacts in policy, provision and practice relevant to statutory and third sector organisations supporting mental health literacy among young people.

Telling stories is as much part of us as breathing air. Indeed we are storytelling animals. Stories are key in helping us understand our environment, our experiences and relationships. They help us build and convey our identities, the building blocks of our selves. Furthermore, in a complex, uncertain, changing and seemingly contradictory world, stories are uniquely suited for helping us to navigate our way through it. There is growing interest in how stories and metaphor are core to life and can help people negotiate mental health. Importantly, stories can also interrogate, challenge and transform existing power relationships, including those that predominate within healthcare contexts.

Creative practices in the arts and humanities have the potential for transforming people’s mental health. With a growing burden of mental distress on young people combined with rising costs for the delivery of services, it is timely to investigate how animated stories could play their part in advancing mental health literacy among young people and helping them find ways to deal with life’s challenges.

We invite proposals from suitably qualified candidates that will consolidate and extend the work of the project. Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, a high 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. A Masters degree is advantageous.

For UK/EU students the studentship will cover tuition frees plus a tax-free stipend for living expenses. We also welcome applications from international students, although the studentship will only cover the international fees and students will need to cover their own living costs. The studentship will commence in October 2020 and submission is expected within the 3 -year funded period. Applications should be submitted using the following link: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/apply/research/.  (Please choose ‘Drama’ as the programme area and quote Reference No.: SDCA-AA-20.)

The deadline for applications is 4:00pm on Friday 5th June 2020. Interviews will take place in late June/early July. Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Mike Wilson at m.wilson2@lboro.ac.uk.

Loughborough University is one of the top-ten research intensive universities in England (REF2014) and was recently awarded University of the Year 2019 by the Times and Sunday Times University Guide. In choosing Loughborough for your research, you will work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

Find out more: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/supporting-you/research/

The newly formed School of Design and Creative Arts offers a wide range of design and creative arts programmes. We are 24th in the world for Art & Design (QS World Rankings 2020) and 2nd in the UK in the Times, Sunday Times, and Guardian University Guides 2020.