PsyPAG 2020 Virtual Annual Conference: Insights from Sophia Fedorowicz

Written by Sophia Fedorowicz, PhD researcher.

Sophia Fedorowicz

On the 31st of July I presented the preliminary findings of my PhD project ‘Experiences of talking to your GP about suicide’ at the PsyPAG annual conference, and this year the conference came with a twist. As a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak the majority of academic pursuits have moved online, including conferences. The Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group answered the call to remote conferencing by designing a Twitter-takeover style conference, depositing delegates posters and pre-recorded presentations in an open access database facilitated by the Open Science Framework and scheduling posts and discussion around them on Twitter throughout the day. There were also workshops over zoom and a social area to network and support each other. Nice. An excellent effort by the PsyPAG team that somehow made us all feel like we were together, despite being apart.  

My Project

My PhD focusses on the patient experience of being assessed for risk of suicide in primary care with an emphasis on patient and public involvement in the project design and execution. The presentation featured at PsyPAG 2020 detailed a study that was co-created with Expert Citizens, an independent group of people who have all experienced multiple needs – combinations of mental ill health, homelessness, addiction and offending behaviour, and offer their lived experience to projects such as mine, service evaluation and many other exceptional undertakings. I presented the preliminary findings of this study seeking to understand how patients experience talking to their GPs about suicide alongside Phil Parkes, the volunteer coordinator for Expert Citizens who has played a key role in the work so far.  

The project consists of an on-line, open-ended survey asking participants questions about their experiences. Working with people who have lived experience led to designing the questions to be as trauma informed as possible and using language that was suitable for the general public. We also emphasised to the participants that they could stay up to date with the progress of the study should they wish to. The purpose of this was to allow the participant to maintain ownership of their contribution and to keep being involved as the study progressed should they wish to.  

We are currently engaged in the analysis of the responses of forty-one participants, aged between 19 and 67. Presently, a dominant theme is how much the attitude of the GP towards the patient matters to the overall experience. For example, even if the GP is not able to provide any practical support for the patient, if they are perceived to be empathic and understanding allowing the person seeking help to talk about their distress, then the patient leaves feeling more positive about the consultation. Participants commented that they felt somewhat relieved by being able to talk to someone about it and to have the potential for ongoing support from their GP. Whereas patients who received a referral to a secondary service but felt the GP was dismissive of them left feeling regretful, and in some cases worse than they did before the consultation.  

These findings are preliminary and there is much more work to be done, this project will also inform further investigation focussing on people trying to access support for suicidal thoughts and feelings using primary care services during the lockdown. If you would like to discuss any part of this project or be kept up to date as it progresses, please get in touch via email ( or Twitter (@Soph_Fedorowicz).

If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings 

Please know that you are not alone. We encourage you to seek support from someone you trust, your GP or a support service like the Samaritans. You matter.  

You can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or access their website for further support HERE (

You can also go to, this resource was developed in collaboration with people who have lived experience and is designed to help keep you safe.

Staffs Student Stories: Meet Lisa Kyte BSc (hons) Psychology with a Foundation Year

About Me:

I’m a full-time mature student with two boys who are older now so not quite so demanding! I was widowed three years ago and realised that life is too short not to follow dreams, so here I am and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! I’ve now completed my Foundation year and am about to embark on my three years with the University. 

Why did you choose to study BSc (Hons) Psychology with a Foundation Year at Staffordshire University?

Initially I returned to college, qualified as a level 2 teaching assistant and completed my maths GCSE, who knew you could love maths! Then, with an interest in the human mind and working with / supporting children with educational needs, I chose BSc (Hons) Psychology with a foundation year. Choosing Staff’s was always going to be the obvious choice as it’s closest to home and I still need to be home for commitments. However, I have friends who attended and their reviews as well as others speak for themselves. I now know how accurate they are as I’ve had a fantastic first year. Lots of support and made a great group of new friends!

What has been the best part of the course so far? 

It’s got to be all the ‘stuff’ you didn’t know! I’ve learnt so much! So much so that, it’s opened up so many different career options for me to consider and lots of possibilities. I think people have a fear of returning to education when they are older, worried you won’t remember everything, trust me, yes it’s a little scary to start with but that soon disappears and you are more capable than you think, an advantage of being a mature student is that you really want this! 

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome and how have you overcome them, while studying with us? 

It’s got to be understanding and embracing the roller coaster. I won’t lie, there are times when you feel overwhelmed, especially if you have been out of education for a while. But! The answer is simple, turn to your friends and tutors, realise it’s normal and you are not alone. It passes quickly and your sense of achievement will push you to carry on. When you look back you’ll recognise the dip and know how to deal with them in the future. Just have your eye on that Graduation Day! 

What are your plans for the Future? 

Originally I wanted to continue with being a Teaching assistant in primary education, but now I’m also considering teaching Psychology and even the possibility of going on to working within the NHS. I think the main thing to remember is I still don’t need to make that decision yet and I have so much more to learn, so who knows! 

Would you recommend our course to others? 

Yes, absolutely I would recommend this course. It’s full of interesting topics, you’ll learn so much with so many avenues to consider following it. There is such variety and areas for discussion. The foundation year is also a great way of getting back into education and it gives you a great start to your course with the University. 

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.

Staffs Student Stories – Meet Sophie Jarrett, Level 5 BSc (Hons) Psychology Student

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course?

I am originally from Stoke-on-Trent and locally studied A-Levels at my school’s sixth form college. I decided to come to an open day at the university after visiting a handful of others around the country. When I came to Staffordshire University, I saw that the facilities here were incredible, that the accommodation was much nicer than other universities, and the Psychology Department was lovely. When I realised, I could have the same independence living away from home on campus, but also being a 15-minute drive away from family, it was an obvious first choice. I received an unconditional offer and I’ve never looked back!

What has been the best part of the course? 

In my first year, I enjoyed my ‘People Behaving Badly’ module, which taught reasoning behind abnormal behaviours. It was interesting to understand why people may behave in a different way. In my second year, I have really enjoyed my ‘Contemporary Issues in Psychology’ module, as it allowed me to see how the knowledge from my lectures and seminars can be applied to real-life scenarios as a Psychologist.  

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome and how have you overcome them, while studying with us? 

A challenge I have had at university is getting used to presentations. I have an Autistic Spectrum Condition, so presenting to others has never come to me naturally. Nevertheless, I started by just presenting to my lecturers and now by the end of my second year, I can engage in class discussions and lead presentations in front of my classes. Initially I also struggled with statistics and working with numbers. I could never get my head around the different statistical tests and what they were for. But my seminar leader, Dr Zachary Parker, really helped break down what each statistical test is used for, which really aided my understanding of psychological statistics.  

What are your next steps and plans for the future? 

I am an aspiring Clinical Psychologist. I would like to work in the National Health Service and therefore my aims after my undergraduate degree is to continue on to postgraduate study in the hope of a place on the highly-competitive Clinical Psychology Professional Doctorate here at Staffordshire University.

Would you recommend our course to others? 

Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour so it can be used in any career. I’d recommend this course to anyone with an interest in psychology, especially if you would like a hands-on experience, as at Staffordshire University, you get practical experiences which you can use for your final year project or research throughout your time at Staffordshire University. 

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

Staffs Student Stories – Meet Phil Bowman, BSc (Hons) Psychology with a Foundation Year

About me

Foundation Year Psychology Student at Staffs Uni
Phil Bowman

Before coming to Staffs Uni I worked as a substance misuse practitioner, a very rewarding job that I loved doing. The job itself was manageable although most of our clients had very complex needs such as mental health issues, the inability to cope with emotion and those that still lived a chaotic lifestyle.

Although I built a great rapport with my clients, I was also aware that I lacked the ability to help them on a deeper level and I felt out of my depth when they disclosed some deep rooted issues such as childhood trauma, drug induced psychosis, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome to name but a few. This left me feeling inadequate as a professional and I began to ponder on the idea that I had the ability to learn how to best support them on a much more holistic level. 

Why did you apply and how did you get a place on the course? 

Whenever I toyed with the idea of going to uni, I would be filled with self-doubt. I thought that I was too old to learn and that I should just continue as a low level practitioner because it was within my “comfort zone”. To be honest I managed to talk myself out of applying more times than I care to remember. I thought that if I left work I would lose my compassion for the clients, I would lose the ability to empathise and I would lose sight of the reasons why I wanted to support people in the first place. 

For as long as I remember I have always been a very stubborn individual, and I have always feared becoming stagnant, I think these qualities helped me to make the decision to apply to Staffs Uni. I applied for the Psychology degree with foundation year in 2019 with the attitude that this would be my “last roll of the career dice” at the age of 48 I believed that alot of companies like to employ younger people, this is not always the case, but it does not stop me from worrying about it.

My interview with Dr Claire Barlow went really well, she had the ability to dilute my self-doubt and managed to reassure me that if I worked hard enough I could achieve great things. I came away from that interview feeling as though I could achieve anything as long as I applied myself

What has been your experience of the course? 

My first day was very daunting and I felt like a fish out of water, I found myself looking around the room and soon noticed that I was the oldest student, I felt like a grandad that had been invited on an 18-30 cruise! This feeling was short lived because my classmates and tutors were brilliant, within about a week I found my place in the class and was soon voted in as our course rep along with a dear friend of mine called Lisa.

Doing a foundation year was a no brainer for me as I did not have a clue about academic writing or independent learning. I struggled/still struggle with I.T and had not stepped foot in a learning environment for 32 years. I have now completed my foundation year and it has given me the ability to centre myself and slip comfortably into learner mode. I can step up to a computer and apply myself to the task in hand, without thinking that the task is too big to complete. I pride myself on having submitted all my assignments on time and achieving above average grades.

This would not have been possible without the support from an amazing team of tutors but also the support from my fellow students. We all have our strengths within the class, mine was mainly lived experience, we had the younger post 6th form students that were “whiz kids” on computers and we had mental health practitioners that wanted to take their careers further. We, as a team, pulled together, we set up a WhatsApp group so we were always in contact to support each other through the assignments and through the revision weeks leading up to exam days, we, as a team, have had an amazing experience!

What are your next steps and plans for the future? 

I am now moving into my second year of study (level 4 at the University). I am going into this year full of confidence and excitement, comfortable in the knowledge that I will be guided and supported throughout my degree. Staffs uni has given me a new sense of self-belief and I am very excited to see where this wonderful journey will take me.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

inpsych blog

Meet the StaffsPsych Graduates – Luke (BSc Hons Psychology)

As part of our new series of StaffsPsych Graduate Success Stories, we are pleased to introduce Luke who graduated from our BSc (Hons) Psychology course in 2017.

Luke introduces himself and talks about his experiences studying Psychology at Staffordshire University, and tells us how his degree has helped him develop his interest in neuroscience, his aims to pursue a career in research and a PhD in Psychology:

I studied A-levels in Psychology, Business, Physical Education, Applied Science and Biology across three years at college before taking the decision to move into full-time work, taking managerial roles at a hotel and Starbucks for a few years. Eventually, my general interest in the brain through reading and A-levels drew me to wanting to study the brains relation to behaviour at University.

What attracted you to studying Psychology at Staffordshire University?

I visited a few universities, but Staffordshire stood out from my other options. This was mainly because of the staff I came into contact with when visiting were passionate, encouraging and always offered constant contact, even after the visit.

What were the best parts of your experience at Staffs?

I managed to gain a perfect balance between socialising and studying hard. It made both of these easier and more joyful, rather than one being sacrificed for the other. The broad range of opportunities whether it be course related (talks and events) or not (sport) gave me opportunities to try and experience many new things.

What was the biggest challenge(s) that you overcame whilst studying at Staffs?

The third-year project was the biggest challenge for me. Not everything went to plan and a technical error with software put me 3 weeks behind schedule. This was huge challenge but putting in the extra work to overcome this really paid off when seeing the final grades.

What have you done since leaving Staffs?

I have moved on to study an MSc in Neuroscience at King’s College London where I am studying the brain at a much more cellular level. Thanks to modules such as ‘Cognitive and Biological Determinants of Behaviour‘ on the course at Staffs my interest in Neuroscience began. I have specialised in stem cells and currently undertaking my project monitoring neurogenesis (ability of the brain to produce new neurons throughout adulthood) in a mice model of sleep deprivation (gene knockout).

What are your plans for the future?

My next step will hopefully be a PhD. I want to continue to monitor factors that influence the neurogenic niche in both positive and negative ways. Negative factors have been implicated in multiple neurodegenerative disorders and depression. Other options I am also considering would be to move into full-time industry work with a pharmaceutical company or a research assistantship job in a laboratory. I also aspire to a neurosurgeon, as a long-term goal. This is something I would like to study part-time alongside my full-time career.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to study Psychology at Staffordshire University?

Go ahead and apply. Studying Psychology at Staffordshire University changed my career and lifestyle. The staff were incredibly motivating and gave me a level of confidence that was the foundation to being successful in my Master’s. The course is broad, it covers all areas of the discipline, this is great. It will allow you to find which area is best suited to you. My greatest advice would be to make sure you maintain the balance between studies and socialising. This was key to me being able to find enjoyment and success in both.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at Staffs?

The thing I really take away from studying the course was the influence of the staff. The teaching is very good and you will get back what you put in. They always made time and effort to have a positive effect on your studies. This not only helped me develop new skills but also the confidence to execute them well.

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Psychology and the Brain

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University is delighted to invite you to Psychology and the Brain, a fun and interactive evening where you will be given the opportunity to get hands-on with some of our fascinating equipment and hear from experts in the field.

Psychology and the Brain will take place at Staffordshire University’s Science Centre, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent, on Thursday 15th March 6 – 8:30 pm. Click here to view the location of the Science Centre on Staffordshire University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus. Includes free parking on site and refreshments.

Psychology and the Brain: Listen

Have you ever wondered… how we measure brain activity? How does VR trick our eyes into thinking what we’re seeing is reality? A series of short expert talks will explore these and other fascinating questions.

Psychology and the Brain: Hands-on

Try your hand at learning how our equipment works such as how we tell if you are stressed, how we can uncover if you are lying and how we test your reaction skills in our driving simulator, amongst other fun demonstrations.

Psychology and the Brain: A chance to win

Having taken part in the hands-on activities, you have a chance to win some Love2Shop vouchers. Entry information and winners announced on the night.

Follow the Psychology and the Brain event via our twitter hashtag #StaffsPsychBrain, including live tweets on the night.

Book Tickets: All welcome. Reserve your (free) space at or contact for more information.

Psychology and the Brain is part of a series of events organised in connection with the Psychology Society to celebrate Brain Awareness Week. Full details can be found here.

How does psychology and the brain apply to you and your life? Come along and find out.

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Maria Panagiotidi joins the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University!

Dr Maria Panagiotidi, who has recently joined the Psychology Academic Staff as a Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, writes an introductory blog about herself and her research:

I am delighted to be joining the team at Staffordshire University as a Lecturer in Psychology.


Dr Maria Panagiotidi

I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Pantio University in Athens, Greece. I fell in love with research and cognitive psychology while working on my research project, which investigated the effects of music training on time perception. After graduating I moved to London, where I obtained a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience.

I completed my PhD in Psychology at the University of Sheffield under the supervision of Dr Tom Stafford. During my studies I examined the role of the superior colliculus in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and worked on establishing a potential objective test for the disorder using a variety of methodologies (eye tracking, behavioural testing, clinical eye tests). The initial findings from my studies were promising and led to a successful grant application (White Rose Collaboration Fund) to fund a study investigating the role of the superior colliculus in ADHD using neuroimaging in collaboration with researchers from the University of York and Leeds.

Over the last year, I have been working as a research psychologist at Arctic Shores, a Manchester based start-up creating psychometric mobile games. My role involved designing and conducting experiments to validate psychometric games. Being part of a multidisciplinary team and an innovative organisation was a great experience and provided me with useful insight into applied psychology and new technologies. As a result, I have developed a passion for cyberpsychology, a subject I am hoping to further explore in the future.

Alongside my previous roles, I have been actively involved in a number of science communication and public engagement activities. A recent project I worked on was the Empathy Station, an installation in collaboration with British Council Film exploring the role of Virtual Reality on Empathy, which was presented at last year’s Sheffield International Documentary Festival. I’m looking forward to continuing this work and taking on some public engagement responsibilities here at Staffordshire University!

If you want to hear more about my research or want to get in touch, please follow me on twitter @mariapage.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into teaching and meeting more of the students and staff at Staffordshire, which has been a very supportive and welcoming place so far! I’m also excited to start doing research using the fantastic facilities here at the Science Centre.

Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details, and to book your place at an open day, please visit:

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Dr Jo Lloyd featured on BBC Radio Stoke discussing her Stoke Psychologist in the Pub talk


Dr Joanne Lloyd

Dr Joanne Lloyd, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Stuart Gordon early evening show talking about the Stoke Psychologist in the Pub series and her talk on “Is Gambling Really the Son of Avarice or the Father of Despair”?

You can listen to Dr Lloyd’s interview via the BBC iPlayer link below:

The Psychologist in the Pub series takes place on the first Wednesday of the month and is co-organised by the West Midlands Branch of the British Psychological Society and the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research. The series of talks is kindly hosted by The Glebe Pub in Stoke town, near Stoke Minster.

Missed the first talk of the 2016/17 series? Don’t worry, upcoming talks include:

Weds 2nd November: Dr. Jim Grange, Keele University.The Reproducibility Crisis in Psychological Science: One Year Later

Weds 7th December: Dave Spence. “The Psychology of Beliefs: Christmas Special”

Weds 1st February: Dr. Daniel Jolley, Staffordshire University. “Are Conspiracy Theories Harmless?”

Talks start at 6pm, but we recommend arriving at 5:30pm to buy food and drink, and find a seat! Directions to the Glebe Pub can found here.

Staffs-Uni-Hi-Res_45-1024x683The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams, Health and Behaviour Change, and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015: New research with people with Bipolar Disorder

Rebecca Owen, PhD Student

Rebecca Owen, PhD Student

Rebecca Owen, a PhD Student co-supervised by Dr Rob Dempsey (Lecturer in Psychology, Staffordshire University), reports on her current research investigating the role of psychosocial factors:

With this week being National Suicide Prevention Week, I thought it might be interesting for psychology students and the general public to see how a topic as sensitive as suicide is tackled from a psychological research perspective. Our work is investigating experience of suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviours or attempts (also known as, “suicidality”), in people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Despite numerous suicide prevention efforts from various sources including, the NHS and charities such as Samaritans, suicide remains the leading cause of death amongst men aged 15 to 44 in the UK. Every four minutes someone makes a suicide attempt and every hour and a half someone dies – so it really is an epidemic.

2015_wspd_banner_englishSuicide tends to be investigated in terms of risk factors. Research studies will try to identify factors which put an individual at a greater risk of either becoming suicidal or attempting to end their life. Common risk factors include gender (being male is typically associated with greater risk), age, employment status, marital status, a previous suicide attempt and a mental health diagnosis. Although these factors can help to predict who might become suicidal, they don’t really tell us anything about why someone became suicidal. For example, simply being male and unemployed doesn’t give us any explanation of the underlying psychological processes and pathways which led to the development of suicidal feelings.

This is where our work comes in – we’re interested in finding out more about these underlying psychological processes. For example, feeling hopeless, feeling defeated and trapped within a situation, feeling like you can’t cope. By understanding more about these processes, we hope that we’ll be able to better inform psychological interventions which specifically aim to change these processes in order to reduce suicide risk in bipolar disorder.

This type of research is a relatively new area in the field of bipolar disorder, so we started off by conducting an exploratory qualitative study with 20 participants (click here to view the paper’s abstract). We found that factors which protected against suicidal behaviour included, (1) thinking about the impact that suicide would have upon family members and friends, and (2) having a strong social support system. We found that triggers for suicidal thoughts included, (1) experiencing mental health stigma, and (2) feeling like a burden to other people.

Participants sought: Do you have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder?

These qualitative findings have informed a larger, quantitative, questionnaire based study which we are currently recruiting volunteers for. Recruitment for the questionnaire study will close by February 2016. If anyone would like any more information about our work or would like to take part, please get in touch with me directly by email at or by phone on 0161 275 2593.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Psychology’s Big Bang!

Big Bang 2015

The BPS Stall at the Big Bang Fair

Psychology Staff (Sarah Dean, Louise Humphreys, Erica Lucas and Judy David) and Student Advocates (Liam Howitt, Blessing Edobor and Kiran Ul-Haq) attended the Big Bang UK Young Scientist and Engineers Fair at Birmingham NEC on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th March 2015. This large event aims to promote science, technology, engineering and maths to young people aged 7-19. The StaffsPsych team were part of the British Psychological Society’s stall at the fair and gave live demonstrations to visitors using the department’s Mirror Drawing task, a procedural memory activity!

Big Bang Mirror Drawing 2015

Blessing having a go at drawing via the mirror!

Level 4 student Blessing said “Working at the Big Bang Fair 2015 was an amazing experience I can never forget in a hurry. I was involved in approaching people of diverse age groups to perform a mirror drawing task and at the end explaining why they experienced difficulty in performing the task using Perception and Learning explanation. I felt really pleased to have taken part in this event to promote Psychology and Staffordshire University. I was able to put my communication skills into effective use during the event. I will also like to add that taking part in this event boosted my confidence level because I was given an opportunity to be in charge; to work as an exhibitor, as participants looked up to me for an explanation and I believe my response was well appreciated based on their expressions. Once again it was an amazing experience!!!’’

Mirror drawing (Big Bang 2015)Advocates (Big Bang 2015)

For more information about courses in Psychology at Staffordshire University please click here. Keep up to date with the latest news, events and research updates from the Staffordshire Psychology team via @StaffsPsych.