Carolina Campodonico - Staff Spotlight
After completing a PhD on Trauma and Psychosis, Dr Carolina Campodonico joined UCLan as a Clinical Psychology lecturer and has been enjoying her time helping and inspiring students.
I have always been interested in mental health, so while I was in Italy, I completed a BSc and an MSc in Clinical Psychology. While studying at Uni I was also volunteering as a paramedic, which made me more and more interested in how human beings react to emergencies and traumatic events.
There was a particular event that made me start thinking about the importance of studying trauma specifically in emergency workers. During a night shift, some people in my team answered a call about a car crash in which kids were involved. One of my colleagues who was at the scene, soon started developing post-traumatic symptoms, but there was no specialised support to help him. I remember thinking that it was incredibly unfair that someone who spends his nights helping others had no one to help him when needed.
Towards the end of my MSc, I won a scholarship to spend 6 months in Norway as an exchange student, studying emergency psychology. I then moved to Manchester to do an MSc in International Disaster Management and after that, I got a fully-funded PhD to study complex trauma in people who experience psychosis.
Role at UCLan
I mostly teach clinical psychology on the BSc Psychology, the MSc in Clinical Psychology and the TAPP Course. Apart from teaching, I supervise students’ placements and final year projects and I am the first-year tutor for three BSc courses. This means that when students are struggling and/or need mitigating circumstances, I am their first point of contact. I also have a TikTok channel (@dr.c_mhealth) aimed at sharing knowledge and fighting taboo around mental health. I am always looking for students or colleagues who are willing to collaborate to make videos on topics they feel passionate about.
When students get excited about something I am teaching, and they start discussing the topic with me or between them, or when they stop to have a chat with me at the end of a lecture, that’s the best part of my job.
Three months ago, I met a student during class who stopped to have a chat with me at the end of a lecture. She told me that she found the topic interesting, she asked me plenty of questions about how I became a lecturer and told me she also wanted to do a PhD. She then volunteered to work with me on a series of mental health TikToks, showing me how passionate she was about making mental health knowledge more accessible.
When I heard that UCLan was piloting a diploma to address the shortage of mental health professionals in the NHS, I felt that this was the right place to be. During my PhD, I found out that most of my participants had never been asked about trauma, although national guidelines clearly say that trauma should always be assessed in people presenting with psychosis. However, this rarely happens as resources are simply too stretched, and I could see first-hand the negative consequence of this lack of trauma assessment. I thought being at UCLan could help me be a part of a necessary change.
Advice to students
Get involved! Get involved with research, become a student ambassador, or join a society. These are all incredible ways to enhance your cv, make new friends, and overall create awesome memories while you are at uni. If you can, make sure to attend the welcome week. There are so many interesting activities specifically planned for you to discover UCLan and meet new people.
Also, and this applies to everyone, ask for help. Whenever you need it, even when you are not sure if you need it. UCLan has so many services that can help you along the way, from the student coaches who can teach you valuable study skills, to the career service, to the wellbeing team, to the year tutors. Help is all around you, you just need to reach out for it.