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Dr Laura Kennedy

Research Associate

Biography

Laura joined the ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health as a Research Associate in December 2023. She completed her ESRC-funded PhD in Criminology at the University of Cambridge, where her research focused on school-based aggression and peer influence. She was awarded the Manuel Lopez-Rey Prize for graduating top of her MPhil year at Cambridge, and she has a BA in Law from the University of Oxford.

Laura is coordinating the next wave of data collection for the Resilience, Ethnicity, and AdolesCent Mental Health (REACH) study. Based in inner-city London, REACH is a cohort study that examines the extent, nature, and development of mental health problems amongst young people from diverse social and ethnic backgrounds. The next wave will focus on the transition to adulthood in the context of recent social and economic challenges.

Before joining King's, Laura worked as a Research Fellow in the Department of Clinical, Educational, and Health Psychology at University College London. Her primary research focus was the evaluation of the UKPRP-funded Kailo programme, which aims to improve adolescent mental health by targeting the social determinants. Whilst finishing her PhD, Laura also worked as a Research and Evidence Officer on the Online Excellence Programme (OEP) at Samaritans. The OEP is a strategic partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and leading technology companies - including Google, Facebook, and Instagram – which aims to promote best practices around suicide prevention and the online environment. This role involved managing and developing the online harms research programme to inform industry guidelines, online safety resources, and campaigning around the Online Safety Bill.

Research Interests

  • Social determinants of mental health
  • Youth aggression and bullying
  • Self-harm and suicide
  • Peer influence
  • Online harms


Expertise and Public Engagement

Laura is passionate about knowledge translation and engaging people with lived experience to ensure that research findings are relevant and meaningful. Her public engagement activities include:

  • Launching and managing the Online Harms Lived Experience Advisory Group at Samaritans to shape the development of research projects, industry guidelines, and online safety resources
  • Presenting policy recommendations to improve online experiences around self-harm and suicide to industry leaders from Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter
  • Synthesising research insights to inform the development of the Samaritans industry guidelines and online safety resources as well as campaigning around the Online Safety Bill
  • Co-facilitating Young Person’s Advisory Group sessions to enrich the evaluation of the Kailo programme
  • Contributing to Orygen’s guidelines for involving people with lived experience in suicide research

Awards

  • ESRC Trinity Hall Studentship (2017 - 2021)
  • Manuel Lopez-Rey Graduate Prize (2017)