Releasing Potential: Higher Education sector's contribution to adult and young people's mental health

Temple Hall, York St John University
Event Time
Tuesday 12 June & Wednesday 13 June 2018, 9.00am - 5.00pm
Students working together

Category Health

York St John University would like to invite you to join us at our Inaugural Mental Health conference. The theme will be the Higher Education sector’s contribution to adult and young people’s mental health.

Tuesday 12 June & Wednesday 13 June 2018
9.00am - 5.00pm
Temple Hall, York St John University

Universities are having to adapt to rapidly changing economic and demographic changes. One way in which they are doing so is through increasing engagement in their local communities within which Higher Education institutions can make a considerable contribution. Accordingly, this conference will bring together national and international university-based projects that make a direct and meaningful contribution to mental health practice and research.

The conference will create a stimulating international forum through which we aim to share practice and research associated with mental health that will showcase and advance the extent of university involvement in their communities.

The event aims to generate a collaborative context in which the dissemination and exchange of practice and research through diverse and engaging media can influence the future development of mental health research and practices.

Student talking to mentor

The Conference Strands are: 

  • Practice and projects currently underway
  • Research and evaluation
  • Student involvement
  • Student mental health

Projects represented at the conference will include those which:

  • Offer educational opportunities for local people who use mental health services
  • Develop and deliver a university based counselling and mental health clinic offering accessible therapy, group work and specialist services
  • Involve students in external mental health projects in which they share their subject knowledge, for example arts or sports projects
  • Offer mentoring, befriending or volunteering schemes to the university community and beyond
  • Conduct service-user or student led evaluations
  • Projects related to early intervention and prevention of mental ill-health
  • Conduct practice-based research
  • Work through the arts offering performances, exhibitions and films.

The conference will support and welcome the participation of people who use mental health services.

Keynote speakers will consider contemporary challenges in providing and accessing mental health services and possible responses the HE sector can make to these.

The Conference will be of interest to:

  • Health and Social Care professionals
  • Higher education community
  • People who use mental health services
  • Commissioners of health and social care provision

Conference Fees

Standard Rates   
Two day delegate rate £100.00 per person
One day delegate rate £50.00 per person
Bursary Rate (please apply via Converge)*  
Two day bursary rate £20.00 per person
One day bursary rate £10.00 per person
Optional Extras  
Welcome reception (Monday 11th June 2018) £10.00 per person
Evening buffet & activities (Tuesday 12th June 2018) £16.50 per person

 * We welcome the involvement of people with lived experience of mental ill health and a limited number of bursaries will be available to support this. If you wish to apply for a bursary to attend this conference please contact

To book your place on this conference please use the 'Book' icon at the top of the page. 

Conference Programme

Please find the full Releasing Potential Conference Programme (pdf. 5.8MB) attached. An overview is also listed below:

Monday 11 June 2018  
7.00pm - 9.00pm Informal arrival reception - Drinks and nibbles will be provided (Optional)
Tuesday 12 June 2018  
9.00am - 9.45am Arrival refreshments and registration
9.45am - 10.00am Welcome from Vice Chancellor, Professor Karen Stanton
10.00am - 11.00am Keynote lecture - Brendan Stone, Professor of Social Engagement & the Humanities, University of Sheffield
11.00am - 12.00pm Parallel Session 1
12.00pm - 12.15pm Refreshment Break
12.15pm - 1.00pm Parallel Session 2
1.00pm - 2.00pm Lunch & performance from Communitas Choir
2.00pm - 3.15pm Parallel Session 3
3.15pm - 3.45pm Refreshment break
3.45pm - 4.45pm Parallel Session 4
4.45pm - 5.00pm Active review of the day
5.00pm Day 1 of the conference ends
6.00pm - 8.00pm Evening Buffet (Optional)
8.00pm - late Out of Character Theatre Company perform In/Hospitable
Wednesday 13 June 2018  
9.00am - 9.45am Registration & Arrival refreshments
9.45am - 10.00am Welcome from Rob Aitken, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and International
10.00am - 11.00am Keynote lecture - Professor Michael Barkham, Clinical Psychology Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield
11.00am - 12.00pm Parallel Session 1
12.00pm - 12.15pm Refreshment break
12.15pm - 1.15pm Parallel Session 2
1.15pm - 2.15pm Lunch with the Leeds College of Music Converge Choir
2.15pm - 3.15pm Parallel Session 3
3.15pm - 4.00pm Active review of the day
4.00pm Conference ends
4.30pm - 6.30pm Celebrating 30 years of Counselling at York St John (PLEASE BOOK SEPERATELY FOR THIS EVENT)
8.00pm - Late Out of Character Theatre Company perform In/Hospitable (PLEASE BOOK SEPERATELY FOR THIS EVENT)

If you have any queries about this conference please contact the Conference and Events Office:
E: T: 01904 876654

Conference Speakers

Keynote Day 1 - Professor Brendan Stone,  Professor of Social Engagement & the Humanities, University of Sheffield

Brendan Stone is Professor of Social Engagement and the Humanities at The University of Sheffield and the founder and director of the Storying Sheffield project. Brendan has expertise in using narrative methodologies to understand complex human and social issues, and he has worked extensively with socially excluded individuals and groups. He has research, teaching, and public engagement interests in narrative, identity, and trauma; mental distress and ‘recovery’; and engaged pedagogies. He is a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Mental Health, and a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Brendan has worked in partnership with many organisations including NHS Trusts, businesses, social enterprises, and local government.

Can we be bolder in our hopes for the potential of education to make a difference in the world? And can that difference include the possibility of a more inclusive, radical, and optimistic narrative about ‘mental health’? Drawing on a range of ideas, and illustrated with reference to diverse initiatives, this talk will sketch out some ways in which such utopian aspirations might be realised

Keynote Day 2 - Professor Michael Barkham, Clinical Psychology Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield

HE’s contribution to the development of psychological therapies

The HE sector makes a key contribution to advancing the evidence-base for mental health interventions (including NHS-based IAPT psychological therapies such as CfD / CBT for depression) through trials and systematic reviews, as well as through the production of practice-based evidence developed from in-depth qualitative inquiry.

Development of the evidence base for counselling as a key mental health intervention (both practice-based evidence and evidence-based practice) is ongoing, with many HEIs involved in generating psychological therapies research. However, not all psychological therapies are perceived as equal and the range and type of evidence that is accepted by key bodies such as NICE and the NHS is limited. Despite increasing public demand for access to psychological therapies through the NHS, long waiting lists and limited choice impact public mental health and wellbeing. In his keynote, Professor Michael Barkham will consider the psychological, professional and political impact of ‘preferred psychologies’. Recent research from the psychological therapies evidence base, including a clinical trial comparing CfD and CBT and led by Professor Barkham, will be considered.

Professor Barkham’s outstanding international profile and his prolific research and publications record are testimony to his research and practice vision and expertise. His work on practice-based evidence for the psychological therapies, his development of practice research networks and his work on therapist effects have made valuable contributions to advancing the knowledge base of the counselling professions.

Out of Character

Out of Character is a theatre company comprising people who have lived experience of mental health problems. They make challenging work for inquisitive audiences with the aim of transcending the boundaries of modern theatre and public perceptions of mental health, claiming the territory between inspiration and medication. This show is based on their production at York Theatre Royal in November 2016. Previous work includes regular collaboration with York Theatre Royal (Tales from Kafka, Henry IV, More Tales From Kafka), A sell-out audience for ‘Disturbing Shakespeare’ as part of the York Literature Festival, and regular performances and workshops at conferences and medical schools around the country.

Review of Objects of Terror: 

Objects of Terror is an excellent production. As a piece of new writing it is outstanding, tackling issues of mental health that are complex and often contentious the play asks us to reconsider our perspective on who is and what is “madness”. Our need to label and define people who are different from perceived norms debilitates all of us. We miss the potential that exists in all people and in so doing commit some to a life that is painful and traumatic. The company are strong with some excellent performances that are highly nuanced. The characters are well drawn with depth and the depiction of “madness” is never mawkish or simple. The production values are high it is well lit and exceptionally well directed and staged.
(Damian Cruden, Artistic Director, York Theatre Royal)


If you require accommodation in York over the dates of the conference we would suggest you refer to the Visit York website. Visit York are York's official visitor information service and will be able to advise on the most appropriate accommodation to meet your needs.

York St John University also has basic accommodation available on campus, subject to availability. The rooms available are all single study bedrooms, mostly with shared bathroom and toilet facilities however we do have a small number of ensuite rooms available. To enquire about rates and availability please contact the Conference and Events team. 

Other events which may interest you

Conversations that Matter

York St John Unversity hosts an annual series of public talks and events that are free and open to all. This year, our community events feature a range of contemporary subjects that affect our daily lives and we invite you to join in on the conversations that matter. Reflecting on the topical issues of mental health and wellbeing, our speakers are leaders in their field or popular public figures and all have something of special interest to share with you.

30 Years of Counselling

Counselling at York St John University is 30! Join us to celebrate.

Share this

Back to events calendar

Cookie Settings