The Oxford Forum

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The Oxford Forum’s Mental Health Panel Debate

  • Saskatchewan Lecture Theatre Exeter College Oxford United Kingdom (map)

Co-hosted with Mind Your Head and the Oxford University Psychology Society

Over the past century our understanding of physical health and wellbeing has leapt forward accompanied by tremendous development in medical technology. However, mental health as an issue has largely been ignored and at times treated as taboo. Yet, mental health is as important as physical health. Recent shock headlines and facts such as the most likely cause of death for a male university student being suicide, are starting to make policy makers realise this. Nevertheless, their responses are still inadequate with as many as 70% of children with clinical mental health problems not receiving the right counselling and treatment, leading to increased difficulties later in life. A failure to correctly deal with mental health issues has a traumatic impact on the individual and wider society having strong links with issues of homelessness and physical health. The world has just started to understand the importance of mental health and wellbeing and the challenges it poses society.

The Oxford Forum has invited three experienced and qualified speakers to debate the subject; they will examine the current mental health challenges we face as a society. Matthew Sumption (Undergraduate at Christ Church) will chair a panel consisting of Hugh Pym (Health Editor at the BBC), Dr Peter Beresford (Professor of Social Policy at Brunel University and Chair of the charity Shaping Our Lives and Dr Nicola Byrom (Researcher and Lecturer at Oxford University, and Founding Director of Student Minds). Attendees will have an opportunity to question the speakers.

Tickets can be purchased in advance of the event for a lunch preceding the event and a drinks reception after the event, both attended by the speakers. Tickets for the two course meal at Marco's with the speakers can be bought here:

For further information about each of the speakers, please see below.

Hugh Pym BA, MA: 

Health Editor at the BBC

Having studied PPE at Christ Church, Hugh Pym went on to study gain an MA in Broadcast Journalism from Falmouth University leading to a successful career in Journalism. Having started as a Radio journalist with the BBC in 1986 he has since held roles as a producer for Channel 4, a correspondent with ITN, a freelance broadcaster with SKY, the chief economics correspondent with the BBC during the financial crisis and more recently as the BBC’s health editor. The position of health editor was a newly created position by the BBC in 2014 to reflect the increasing importance of health stories and aimed to bring greater understanding and analysis. With all major political parties making the NHS and health policy one of their key priorities, the politicizing of health care policy makes a journalistic analysis increasingly important for public understanding and government accountability. Hugh Pym brings this experienced political analysis of government policy and responses towards mental health issues.

Dr Peter Beresford OBE, BA (Hons), PhD:

Professor of Social Policy at Brunel University and Chair of Shaping Our Lives

Peter Beresford has an established career as an academic who is actively involved in the development of policy and research that emphasises service user involvement. Shaping Our Lives is an independent user-controlled organisation, think tank and network for service users and disabled people. They aim to facilitate service user involvement at a national level by giving a shared voice to user controlled organisations by developing links to other user controlled groups. In addition to this work he been a member of many government and non-statutory committees providing policy scrutiny and advice. Further to his academic and charity work Peter is regular contributor to Guardian, writing articles that question the responses of government and society to social care and disabilities. 

Dr Nicola Byrom Bsc, PhD:

Researcher and Lecturer at Oxford University, and Founding Director of Student Minds

Nicola Byrom is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Oxford. Her research interests focus on cognitive risk factors for mental health with the goal of identifying predictors of vulnerability and developing psychological interventions to enhance resilience. Due to academic interests and personal experience, Nicola founded the peer support charity ‘Student Run Self Help’ for Oxford students while studying her PhD. In 2013 this programme was re-launched as the international charity ‘Student Minds’. ‘Student Minds’ believes that peer interventions can dramatically help change the state of student mental health. They deliver training and support to equip students to bring about positive change on their campuses across the country. One of the key aims of this programme is to help change the environment around mental health so that it is an open and accessible issue that is discussed without stigma. For her exceptional work within her community helping to improve mental health among students Nicola received the Queens Young leader Award in 2015, she has also received the Vice Chancellors award and was asked to represent the University in the Olympic torch relay. 

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