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Laura Kennedy

Dr Laura Kennedy

Research Associate


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 she was awarded the Nigel Walker Prize for an outstanding written contribution to the field. She also received 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. In addition, Laura has received an IoPPN Early Career Research Award and is using latent class analysis to investigate typologies of adolescent self-harm in the REACH sample.

Before joining KCL, Laura worked as a Research Fellow in the Department of Clinical, Educational, and Health Psychology at UCL. 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

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

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


  • IoPPN Early Career Research Award (2024)
  • Nigel Walker Prize (2024)
  • ESRC Trinity Hall Studentship (2017 - 2021)
  • Manuel Lopez-Rey Graduate Prize (2017)