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Helen Spandler

Professor Helen Spandler

Professor of mental health studies
School of Social Work, Care and Community

Helen has a particular interest and expertise in critical approaches to mental health. This includes the theory, practice, policy, history and politics of mental health care. Her work is located within the emerging field of Mad Studies.

Helen currently holds a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award to explore radical mental health zines (MadZines). She is also the Editor of Asylum: the radical mental heath magazine. Helen is a Research Degrees Tutor in the School of Social Work, Care and Community

Helen worked for a number of years in the mental health field, mainly in a service user involvement / advocacy capacity. She joined the School of Social Work as a Post Doctoral Research Fellow in May 2004. Since then, she has completed a number of national and regional research projects in mental health. She is the author of numerous books and articles in the field including 'Who's Hurting Who?' (1996); 'Asylum to Action' (2006); 'Beyond Fear and Control: working with young people who self-harm' (2007) and 'Distress or Disability?: Mental Health and the Politics of Disablement' (2015). Helen organised and hosted an event at UCLan in 2019 about 'new' gender identities in sport and in 2020 produced a booklet for sports organisations about including non-binary gendered people in sport. 

  • PhD Critical Psychology. Manchester Metropolitan University, 2002
  • MA Psychiatry, Philosophy and Society. Sheffield University, 1994
  • BA (hons) by Independent Study (East London, 1992)
  • Post Grad Cert. Research Student Supervision, UCLan, 2007
  • Manchester Course in Group Psychotherapy, Institute of Group Analysis, 1997
  • Helen was lead author of a co-authored article ‘Exploring the case for truth and reconciliation in mental health services’ published in the Mental Health Review Journal which was selected as Outstanding Paper in the 2018 Emerald Literati Awards.
  • Radical mental health zines
  • Post war histories of psychiatry and the psychiatric survivor movement
  • The development of Mad Studies
  • Social Movements, political activism and social change
  • Grassroots truth and reconciliation initiatives
  • Sport, gender and mental health
  • Therapeutic communities and non-medicalised crisis alternatives
  • Managing Editor: Asylum: the radical mental heath magazine. www.