Kate Massey-Chase 

PhD student in finals of national competition

A University of Exeter PhD student who is researching how theatre can help young people with mental health issues, has been shortlisted for a national award.

Kate Massey-Chase has focussed on how theatre can support young people who are moving from Child & Adolescent Mental Health services to Adult services. This transition is recognised as an area of concern within health care and is a priority for change within the NHS.

Kate has also drawn upon her own experiences as a mental health service user who experienced this transition. Her research, which has involved working with young people, their parents and professionals, has shown that this can be a stressful and frightening time. Often young people can feel a strong sense of stigma surrounding their mental health and this can impact on their treatment within adult services.

“I’ve been looking at how story telling can help young people who have to repeat a potentially ‘stigmatising story’ to professionals, which can affect how they feel about their own identity,” she said. “It’s not about teaching them to be better at being patients; it’s about thinking about the other things that make them a whole and important person.”  

Her work, which she has undertaken within the Drama department at the University, has led to her presenting to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing in the Houses of Parliament and speaking at international conferences. She has also co-authored a book about the impact of a prison theatre company she used to work with, called: Playing for Time Theatre Company: perspectives from the prison.

She has now been nominated for the PhD Student of the Year category of the FindAPhD.com awards, because she is a positive force within her department.

Kate will discover later this month if she has won.

“I am completely delighted, it is an exciting thing to be in the final,” she added. “One of the things I have really enjoyed has been to be part of a thriving research culture within the department, which I’ve been pleased to be able to contribute to.”

Kate’s research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Date: 4 July 2019

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