Portrait of Keira Pratt-Boyden

Keira Pratt-Boyden

PhD student
Social Anthropology


PhD project: Mental health activism and alternative communal healing methods in the UK

Mental health and psychosocial wellbeing are among the greatest challenges facing Britain today and there is much debate as to the efficacy of different treatment regimes and models. Informal peer approaches are increasingly utilised. However, there is a shortage of ethnographic accounts exploring the underlying assumptions, methodology and efficacy of alternative peer, or ‘mutual help’, approaches employed by individuals who reject conventional mental health services. This project will address several gaps in mental health research by applying an anthropological lens to a pressing topic that is dominated by psychiatry and psychology. It will use theoretically and empirically grounded evidence to explore: a) (ex-)service-user activists’ perspectives on, and experiences of, conventional mental health treatments and services; b) their conceptualisations of mental health; and c) their experiences of collective mutual-help approaches to healing. 

It will offer an empirically informed understanding of alternative, community-based healing methods and contribute to debates about the theorisation, conceptualisation and treatment of mental illness in the UK.


Dr Mike Poltorak
Dr Daniela Peluso


University of Kent, Vice Chancellor's Research Scholarship


Nolas, M., Pratt-Boyden, K., Heller, F., Schöning, J. and Rauers, A. (forthcoming 2017) ‘Mixed methods Evaluation of an Interdisciplinary Innovation Project: from Analogue to Digital Ecomaps for Child Social Work Practice? Children and Youth Services Review.

Nolas, M., Watters, C., Maglajlic, R., Pratt-Boyden, K. (Forthcoming 2017) ‘On the Road: The Role of Place in Social Support’.

Crocker, J., Pratt-Boyden, K., Hislop, J., Rees S. , Locock L. , Petit-Zeman S. , Chant A., Treweek S., Cook J., Farrar N., Woolfall K., Bostock J., Bowman L., Bulbulia R. (forthcoming 2017) ‘How Might Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Improve Recruitment and Retention in Trials? A Qualitative Study Exploring the Views of Surgical Trial Staff and PPI Contributors’. Research Involvement and Engagement.

Pratt-Boyden, K. and Howard, N. (2013) ‘Occupy London as Pre-figurative Political Action.’ Development in Practice. Special Issue: Civil Society at a Crossroads. Vol. 23 (6) 729-741.

Pratt-Boyden, K. (2012) ‘Occupying the Couch: Therapy and Healing in Activist Communities,’ DVD (8-minutes).

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