Lived Experiences of Distress Research Group

We bring together a unique blend of world-class research, scholarship, training and enterprise activity to understand the psychosocial causes, effects and treatments of addictive behaviours

The Lived Experiences of Distress Research Group researches lived experiences of mental distress, centring on how individuals interpret, embody, manage and live with mental health challenges.

An integral part of these investigations is the close examination of professional relationships and identities of staff and service users, in the context of delivering interventions. The team is engaged in a variety of diverse research projects across a number of NHS trusts and voluntary organisations, with an in-depth focus on in-patient psychiatric and community settings. Projects include examining the impact of familial and intimate relationships on treatment and recovery, the role of emotions in the development and maintenance of mental distress and the impact of space and setting on well-being. Professor Reavey is an honorary research consultant at St. Andrew’s Healthcare, where she leading on projects relating to lived experiences of distress in secure forensic psychiatric settings.

A further feature of this group is its use of innovative methodologies including action research and visual methods. Such eclectic and innovative research is bound together by a common goal of pushing forwards the boundaries of theory, while maximising its impact on society.

Current projects

  • Professor Callaghan (PI), Professor Reavey and Dr Vangeli are collaborating on a Mental Health First Aid England three year funded project with the Centre for Mental Health, entitled Evaluation of Mental Health First Aid from the Perspective of Workplace End Users  (EMPOWER).
  • Professor Reavey (as CI with colleagues from King’s College London and the Institute of Psychiatry) is completing a three and a half year NIHR funded project entitled “Comparison of Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Intensive Community Care Services versus Usual Inpatient Care for Young People with Psychiatric Emergencies (IVY): An Internal Pilot followed by a Randomised Controlled Trial Comprising All Intensive Community Service Care Teams in Great Britain".

A number of researchers within the division of psychology and beyond share a common interest in examining mental health outside the traditional boundaries of psychiatry and diagnostic categories. The group includes members with lived experiences of distress, as a means to strength the experiential legitimacy of the group’s expertise and to ensure a co-production model is adhered to, where possible). Broadly these can be referred to as ‘psychosocial’ approaches to mental distress.

We have gained a reputation, won awards and attracted funding by providing theoretical and methodological justification for approaching the topic of mental health and distress in this way. Our expertise in qualitative research methods has strengthened our reputation with practitioners and researchers alike, and our strong commitment to working alongside users of the mental health system has attracted national and international acclaim.

Doctoral students

  • Sarah Bogle
  • Katharine Harding
  • Ope Atanda
  • Serina Fuller
  • Seth Hunter
  • Richard Batty
  • Rai Waddingham

Visiting scholars and professors

  • Professor Steven Brown (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Dr Tim Carter (University of Nottingham)
  • Andrew Grundy (University of Nottingham)

Prof. Paula Reavey

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Professor of Psychology and Mental Health; Course Director MSc Mental Health and Clinical Psychology
Telephone: 020 7815 6177

Paula Reavey is Professor of Psychology and Mental Health, and Course Director of the MSc Mental Health and Clinical Psychology.


Prof. Patrick Callaghan

School/Division: Applied Sciences
Job title: Dean of School of Applied Sciences
Telephone: 020 7815 7902

Professor Patrick Callaghan specialises in mental health science with interests in psychosocial interventions for mental health and wellbeing, the application of social cognition models of health behaviour and research methods and policy evaluation.


Prof. Daniel Frings

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Professor of Social Psychology; Course Director, MSc in Addiction Psychology and Counselling
Telephone: 020 7815 5888

Daniel Frings is Professor of Social Psychology and Course Director of the MSc Addiction Psychology and Counselling.


Dr Elisa Lewis

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Lecturer
Telephone: 020 7815 5857

Elisa Lewis is a Lecturer in Psychology.


Dr Eleni Vangeli

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Senior Lecturer
Telephone: 020 7815 5806

Eleni Vangeli is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology.


Dr Daniel Kolubinski

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Lecturer
Telephone: 020 7815 5814

Dan Kolubinski is a Lecturer in Psychology.


Nick McCubbin

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Lecturer
Telephone: 020 7815 5467

Nick McCubbin is a Lecturer in Psychology.


James Binnie

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Senior Lecturer; Course Director, BSc Psychological Counselling
Telephone: 020 7815 5430

James Binnie is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Course Director of the BSc Psychological Counselling.


Dr Sarah Church

School/Division: Health and Social Care / Adult Nursing and Midwifery
Job title: Associate Professor in Midwifery
Telephone: 020 7815 8351

Dr Sarah Church is an experienced midwife, educator and researcher. She is in a joint appointment with LSBU and Barts Health NHS Trust.