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Institute for Social Justice

Health and wellbeing

Our research into health and wellbeing.

Across the university we conduct a range of research, practice and training that engages with the lived experiences of health and wellbeing.

Amongst other areas, this includes projects interested in supporting individuals and communities to mental health recovery and personal agency in wellbeing.

This work sits across the arts, counselling, psychology and sport.

Our current projects are:

Converge: Social Justice Practice and Research in Mental Health

Converge students in music studio at Abbey Road

Converge at York St John University offers people with mental health issues access to free arts courses. It provides one model with which to address issues of social justice and equality of access within education and mental health services.

Founded by Dr Nick Rowe, Converge is a longitudinal practice-research project which uses action research, peer research and reflective practice to explore how arts and mental health programmes can work within a university context. It also hosts the Converge Evaluation and Research Team (CERT), a group of researchers with lived experience of mental health difficulties.

Converge has been funded by Research England and the Office for Students to carry out an evaluation over 2020-2022 of the programme's impact on its participants and partners. For further information email

Counselling and Mental Health Centre

Composite image of headshots of team members of the Counselling and mental health centre

York St John University's Counselling and Mental Health Centre provides accessible wellbeing services to the wider community.

All services are provided by a dedicated team of staff and students. Counselling is available for a wide range of mental ill-health and wellbeing issues. The Centre provides specialist bereavement and domestic abuse services and research.

Additionally, we are extending our services into coaching for wellbeing and coaching for veterans. The Centre offers an excellent context for our students to undertake practitioner and work-related placements and provides rich opportunities for staff and student research projects of value to our local, regional, and national communities.

To find out more visit the Centre website.

Moving Minds: Dance and dementia

Adults stood in group clapping

Moving Minds is an innovative project that creates opportunities for people affected by dementia to participate in dance and improvisational movement sessions. The project explores what dance, as a creative embodied practice, could offer people living with dementia and those that live alongside them, and questions how dance might enable embodied expressions of identity and selfhood.

Through adopting an embodied approach to understanding selfhood, Moving Minds provides a direct challenge to the assumption that with impaired cognition there is a corresponding loss of identity.

Led by Elaine Harvey (dance), this project examines how creative embodied practices, such as dance, might provide opportunities to examine the body’s potentiality for innovation and creative action.

Body Image in the Digital Age

Image of woman torn from magazine on a yellow background with caption 'Don't have to be pretty to become a legend'

How can we best support young people in navigating the pressure social media places on body image and our sense of self? Many digital technologies have the potential to change how we think and feel about our bodies – from posting selfies on social media, to tracking weight loss through diet apps or following #fitspiration work-out advice.

Unfortunately, many of these effects are negative, and so developing digital literacy and resilience, as well an understanding of how to relate to the body in a more positive way, becomes an increasingly important for modern adolescent development. 

Led by Dr Beth Bell (psychology) Body Image in the Digital Age aims to equip young people with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate this changing digital landscape and develop more positive relationships with their bodies.

Working Women and the Menopause

Cartoon of woman next to fan

All women are affected by the menopause during their life. Its impact on health, wellbeing and mood can be significant, yet it is largely overlooked in conversations and policies on employee wellness and support. This reflects a wider, disproportionate focus on male experiences at work across research and in wider debate.

As an experience that affects all women, isn’t it time we took a more mature and proactive approach to understanding the menopause and considering the support that women might value from their employer during that period of their lives? The Institute for Social Justice is funding a new, year-long study to explore the experiences of menopausal women and determine what we need to learn and consider, to improve provision for the menopause in the workplace.

For further information contact Dr Sophie Carter.

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