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Dr Nadia Svirydzenka

Job: Associate Professor/Reader in Culture, Identity, and Mental Health

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Applied Social Sciences

Research group(s): Mary Seacole Research Centre (Deputy Director), Institute for Psychological Science (Social, Culture, and Personality Cluster)

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 250 6483

E: nadzeya.svirydzenka@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/appliedsocialsciences

 

Personal profile

Dr Nadzeya (Nadia) Svirydzenka is an Associate Professor/Reader in Culture, Identity, and Mental Health at De Montfort University. She completed her BSc in Psychology at Drake University, United States; MSc in Cross-Cultural Psychology and Brunel University, London; and a PhD with the focus on Social and Developmental Psychology at the University of Dundee, Scotland. She then spent four years as a Research Associate at the Greenwood Institute of Child Health at the University of Leicester prior to taking up position at De Montfort University, Leicester in 2014.

Dr Svirydzenka is a social and cultural psychologist, and her research interests lie in understanding mental health of vulnerable populations though culturally framed identities, attitudes, stigma, and behaviours.

As culture reflects sociocultural and economic factors underpinning power dynamics in any given society, in her research she uses emancipatory and critical research paradigms employing inclusive participatory methodologies embracing the principles of co-creation. She blends the use of creative methodology (theatre, photo elicitation, digital storytelling) with traditional mixed methods (qualitative interviews and quantitative survey methods) to elicit new stories and lived experiences and catalyse fresh thinking about possible solutions.

A central theme for her research concerns how mental health and resilience can be developed in response to social challenges like migration, conflict, poverty, and gender violence; what resources mitigate the adverse mental health consequences; and how they can be mobilized from within communities for effective interventions. Dr Svirydzenka’s research challenges traditional separation of meaningful identities like gender, ethnicity, and migrant as separate categories and she is interested in an integrated approach focused on interactions and intersections between these categories. She am interested in identity intersectionality approach to understanding socio-cultural complexities that make individuals and communities not only more vulnerable to mental ill health but also help map their empowered solutions and pathways to resilience, recovery, empowerment, and visibility.

Research group affiliations

  • Mary Seacole Research Centre (DMU; Deputy Director)
  • Institute for Psychological Science (DMU)
  • Leicester Centre for Mental Health Research (DMU, UoL, LPT; Culture and Ethnicity Topic Lead)

Publications and outputs

  • Review of mental health promotion interventions in schools
    Review of mental health promotion interventions in schools O'Reilly, Michelle; Adams, Sarah; Svirydzenka, N.; Dogra, N. Purpose The prevalence of mental disorders amongst children and adolescents is an increasing global problem. Schools have been positioned at the forefront of promoting positive mental health and well-being through implementing evidence-based interventions. The aim of this paper is to review current evidence-based research of mental health promotion interventions in schools and examine the reported effectiveness to identify those interventions that can support current policy and ensure that limited resources are appropriately used. Methods The authors reviewed the current state of knowledge on school mental health promotion interventions globally. Two major databases, SCOPUS and ERIC were utilised to capture the social science, health, arts and humanities, and edu- cation literature. Results Initial searches identified 25 articles reporting on mental health promotion interventions in schools. When mapped against the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 10 studies were included and explored. Three of these were qualitative and seven were quantitative. Conclusions A range of interventions have been tested for mental health promotion in schools in the last decade with vari- able degrees of success. Our review demonstrates that there is still a need for a stronger and broader evidence base in the field of mental health promotion, which should focus on both universal work and targeted approaches to fully address mental health in our young populations. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Open access article O'Reilly, M. , Svirydzenka, N., Adams, S., Dogra, N. (2018) Review of mental health promotion interventions in schools. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 53(7), pp.647-662.
  • Egocentrism and cyberbullying: Imaginary audience and personal fable ideation predict cyberbullying and cyber victimisation in adolescents and emerging adults.
    Egocentrism and cyberbullying: Imaginary audience and personal fable ideation predict cyberbullying and cyber victimisation in adolescents and emerging adults. Rai, Roshan; Smith, Emily; Svirydzenka, N. Egocentrism and cyberbullying: Imaginary audience and personal fable ideation predict cyberbullying and cyber victimisation in adolescents and emerging adults. Objectives: The imaginary audience and personal fable, or the egocentric beliefs in being the centre-of-attention and special respectively, are prominent in adolescence and emerging adulthood. The main focus of this research is to determine whether egocentric beliefs are associated with engaging in cyberbullying behaviour or being a victim of cyberbullying. Furthermore, the research also aimed to determine whether cyberbullying and victim behaviour differed according to age. Design: The study employed a cross-sectional questionnaire-based design, investigating whether cyberbullying behaviour or perceived cyber victimisation could be predicted from the imaginary audience, personal fable, and age. Methods: Fifty-two 14-15 year olds (attending school) and fifty 18-25 year olds (attending University) completed questionnaires measuring cyberbullying and cyber victim behaviour, the personal fable, the imaginary audience, and basic demographic information. Results: Multiple regression analysis showed that imaginary audience (β=.355, t(101)=3.97, p<.001), and age (β=.249, t(101)=2.80, p=.006) positively predicted cyberbullying behaviour. Cyber victim behaviour was positively predicted by the imaginary audience (β=.369, t(101)=3.98, p<.001) and negatively predicted by the personal fable (β=-.238, t(101)=-2.57, p=.012). Independent samples t-tests confirmed that emerging adults cyberbullied more than adolescents (t(100)= -2.32, p=.022; emerging adult mean = 6.58, adolescent mean = 4.50). Conclusions: Those higher in imaginary audience reported higher levels of both cyber victim and cyberbullying behaviour, whilst those higher in personal fable reported being a victim of cyberbullying less. Perhaps surprisingly, emerging adults cyber bullied more than adolescents. Aspects of developmental change, specifically egocentric ideation, could have importance to cyberbullying perpetration and victimisation. Rai, R., Smith, E., and Svirydzenka, N. (2017) Egocentrism and cyberbullying: Imaginary audience and personal fable ideation predict cyberbullying and cyber victimisation in adolescents and emerging adults. Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Developmental Section Conference, 13-15 September, Stratford-upon-Avon, U.K.
  • Meaning and barriers to quality care service provision in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: Qualitative study of stakeholder perspectives
    Meaning and barriers to quality care service provision in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: Qualitative study of stakeholder perspectives Ronzoni, Pablo; Dogra, N.; Svirydzenka, N. Background Defining quality in health presents many challenges. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defined quality clinical care as care that is equitable, timely, safe, efficient, effective and patient centred. However, it is not clear how different stakeholders within a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) understand and/or apply this framework. This project aims to identify key stakeholders“ understanding of the meaning of quality in the context of CAMHS. Method The study sample comprised of three groups: (i) patients and carers, (ii) CAMHS clinical staff, and (iii) commissioners (Total N = 24). Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data and thematic analysis was applied to explore participant’s views on the meaning and measurement of quality and how these might reflect the IOM indicators and their relevance in CAMHS. Results An initial barrier to implementing quality care in CAMHS was the difficulty and limited agreement in defining the meaning of quality care, its measurement and implementation for all participants. Clinical staff defined quality as personal values, a set of practical rules, or clinical discharge rates; while patients suggested being more involved in the decision-making process. Commissioners, while supportive of adequate safeguarding and patient satisfaction procedures, did not explicitly link their view on quality to commissioning guidelines. Identifying practical barriers to implementing quality care was easier for all interviewees and common themes included: lack of meaningful measures, recourses, accountability, and training. All interviewees considered the IOM six markers as comprehensive and relevant to CAMHS. Conclusions No respondent individually or within one stakeholder group identified more than a few of the indicators or barriers of a quality CAMHS service. However, the composite responses of the respondents enable us to develop a more complete picture of how to improve quality care in practice and guide future research in the area. Open Access journal Svirydzenka, N., Ronzoni, P. andDogra, N. (2017) Meaning and barriers to quality care service provision in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: Qualitative study of stakeholder perspectives. BMC Health Services Research, 17 (1), article no. 151
  • Research and partnerships with schools
    Research and partnerships with schools Svirydzenka, N.; Aitken, Jill; Dogra, N. Purpose Despite the quantity of research on child and adolescent mental health being done in schools, little out- put has focused on the practical aspects of recruiting schools and students into a study. Furthermore, there is limited knowledge on how to develop and sustain pro- ductive and mutually beneficial partnerships with schools after the project finishes. Methods A large study examining prevalence of mental health problems in young people involving nine schools is used as an example for the procedure of recruitment and carrying out a research project, while developing and sustaining partnerships with schools. Results While recruiting the schools, a three-stage model was developed that corresponded closely to the school’s needs and existing demands. The suggested procedure for the study, thus, closely reflected the varying existing cul- tures of participating schools. Partnerships, developed as a result of the project, were used in developing further pro- jects and interventions for promoting good mental health in schools. Conclusions Rather than a blanket research recruitment and procedural approach with an end to school involve- ment at the end of the project, the paper advocates for a deeper understanding of the schools’ internal culture for improved recruitment and study outcomes. Developed partnerships, when sustained past the completion of research, prove to be a useful tool in applying the findings in promoting good mental health in schools and continuing research further. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Svirydzenka, N., Aitken, J. and Dogra, N. (2016) Research and partnerships with schools. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51 (8), pp. 1203-1209
  • A qualitative exploration of how adopted children and their parents conceptualise mental health difficulties.
    A qualitative exploration of how adopted children and their parents conceptualise mental health difficulties. O’Reilly, Michelle; Bowlay-Williams, Jeanette; Svirydzenka, N.; Vostanis, P. Adopted children tend to have high levels of emotional, behavioural and developmental need and are more likely to present to a range of services, including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Although research exploring adopted children’s’ perspectives is growing, it remains limited. Furthermore, there has been little work t0 engage adopted children in research. Our project aimed to examine adopted children’s viewpoints of mental health and services alongside those of their adoptive carers. Results indicated that, although there were some similarities between carer and child perspectives, they also frequently differed. They provided different constructions of the problem but agreed that family relationships were strained. Some acknowledgement of the role of the school was offered and other external sources of support cited. Coping was considered to be complex and, while some issues were analogous to ‘normal’ family life, much was inherent to the adoption status. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. O’Reilly, M., Bowlay-Williams, J., Svirydzenka, N. and Vostanis, P. (2016) A qualitative exploration of how adopted children and their parents conceptualise mental health difficulties. Adoption & Fostering, 40 (1), pp. 60-76
  • Young people’s perceptions of mental and physical health in the context of general wellbeing
    Young people’s perceptions of mental and physical health in the context of general wellbeing Singletary, Joanne H.; Bartle, Craig L.; Svirydzenka, N.; Suter-Giorgini, Nicola M.; Cashmore, Annette M.; Dogra, N. Objectives: Recognition of the need for health education in schools has seen advances in health literacy in recent years. Most of these have focused on physical health whereas education about mental health is generally lacking and focused on tackling stigma rather than promoting good mental health. This study evaluated a pilot intervention designed to improve young people’s understanding of good mental health as a key aspect of wellbeing and explores their perceptions of health and wellbeing. Methods: Two hundred and eighteen 13-year-olds participated in an interactive workshop about healthy eating, physical activity and mental health. Young people’s understanding and perceptions were assessed through anonymous questionnaires at the start and end of the workshop. Common themes were identified and differences pre- and post-workshop and between girls and boys were analysed. Results: Nearly all young people (100% before, 97% after) perceived being healthy to mean being physically healthy. A minority (8%) also considered mental health to be a component of general health, which increased to 12% after the workshop. Understandings of mental health broadened after the workshop. Interestingly many mentioned physical health when asked to describe mental health, both before and after the workshop. Girls’ and boys’ responses were similar except for more girls including social relationships in their descriptions of mental health. Conclusions: In this study, we have discovered more about how young people perceive health in general and mental health. Such information is useful for targeting future interventions. Students’ understanding of mental health and its importance to wellbeing can be improved through short combined health interventions. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Singletary, J.H. et al. (2014) Young people’s perceptions of mental and physical health in the context of general wellbeing. Health Education Journal, 74 (3), pp. 257-269
  • Schoolchildren’s perspectives on the meaning of mental health.
    Schoolchildren’s perspectives on the meaning of mental health. Svirydzenka, N.; Bone, C; Dogra, N. Purpose – Mental health of children and young people is often discussed in terms of mental illness, however, such an approach is limited. The purpose of this paper is to explore young people's views of what mental health is and how to stay mentally healthy. Design/methodology/approach – The paper investigated young people's views on these two issues through a series of workshops. In total 218, 13-year-old schoolchildren produced posters with their impressions of the issues. Themes that young people identified were then discussed with them in terms of the existing Bright Futures definition of mental health. Poster responses were subsequently transcribed and thematically analysed. Findings – The paper identified a number of themes for each question. Mental health was viewed in terms of personal attributes of an individual, illness, ability for personal management and establishing social relations. Young people saw mental health maintained through a combination of lifestyle choices, personal attributes, management of self and environment, social support and relationships, as well as treatment of illness. These themes corresponded to the ones identified by the Bright Futures. Research limitations/implications – This study highlights the complexity of young people's views on the meaning of mental health. They were also more positive, open and competent in discussing mental health than previously suggested. However, a more systematic investigation of views and attitudes is necessary, including younger children. Additionally, health care professionals are likely to benefit from young people's engagement in planning and implementing strategies for better mental health. Originality/value – This paper is one of the few to investigate the positive meaning of mental health with young people. Svirydzenka, N., Bone, C., and Dogra, N. (2014) Schoolchildren’s perspectives on the meaning of mental health. Journal of Public Mental Health. 13 (1), pp. 4-12.
  • Characteristics and rates of mental health problems among Indian and White adolescents in two English cities. A letter response to: Gnanavel, S. Exploring the Indian advantage and addressing the unmet health care needs of adolescents.
    Characteristics and rates of mental health problems among Indian and White adolescents in two English cities. A letter response to: Gnanavel, S. Exploring the Indian advantage and addressing the unmet health care needs of adolescents. Svirydzenka, N.; Dogra, N.; Vostanis, P.; Dugard, P.; Singh, S. Svirydzenka, N., Dogra, N., Vostanis, P., Dugard, P. and Singh, S. (2013) Characteristics and rates of mental health problems among Indian and White adolescents in two English cities. A letter response to: Gnanavel, S. Exploring the Indian advantage and addressing the unmet health care needs of adolescents. British Journal of Psychiatry. 203 (6), pp. 468
  • Mental health service use by adolescents of Indian and White origin.
    Mental health service use by adolescents of Indian and White origin. Vostanis, P.; Svirydzenka, N.; Dugard, P.; Singh, S.; Dogra, N. Vostanis, P., Svirydzenka, N., Dugard, P., Singh, S., and Dogra, N. (2013) Mental health service use by adolescents of Indian and White origin. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 98 (10), pp. 764-776.
  • Characteristics and rates of mental health problems among Indian and White adolescents in two English cities.
    Characteristics and rates of mental health problems among Indian and White adolescents in two English cities. Dogra, N.; Svirydzenka, N.; Dugard, P.; Singh, S.; Vostanis, P. Background: Sampling techniques for national surveys have constrained the statistical power in estimating prevalence rates of child mental health problems in minority ethnic groups. Aims: To establish the prevalence rates of mental health problems in ethnic Indian adolescents in England and compare these with matched White adolescents living in the same areas. Method: A cross-sectional survey with oversampling of Indian adolescents aged 13–15 years of age. Results: The sample size was 2900 (71% response rate) with 1087 (37%) Indian and 414 (14%) White adolescents. Ethnically Indian adolescents had lower rates of all types of mental health problems (5% v. 13% and 21% v. 30% for abnormal Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire scores, respectively) and substance misuse (18% v. 57%, 5% v.15% and 6% v. 9% for regular alcohol, smoking and drug use, respectively), with the exception of eating disorders, compared with their White counterparts. The odds of an abnormal score on the mental health questionnaires were worse for White compared with Indian children irrespective of sociodemographic variables. Conclusions: Factors relating to how Indian adolescents are parented or their social support networks may be influencing their mental health and may warrant further investigation. Declaration of interest: None. Dogra, N., Svirydzenka, N., Dugard, P., Singh, S., and Vostanis, P. (2013) Characteristics and rates of mental health problems among Indian and White adolescents in two English cities. British Journal of Psychiatry, 203, pp. 44-50

Click here to view a full listing of Nadia Svirydzenka's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Identity & Identity intersectionality
  • Child and adolescent mental health
  • Identity and health
  • Migration
  • Communities and groups experiencing marginalisation
  • Identity Structure Analysis
  • Creative and participatory methodologies
  • Mixed methods research.

Areas of teaching

  • Social Psychology
  • Cross-Cultural/Cultural Psychology

Qualifications

PhD in Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK

Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education & Fellow of HEA, De Montfort University, UK

MSc in Cross-Cultural Psychology, Brunel University, London, UK

BSc in Psychology, Drake University, Iowa, United States

Membership of professional associations and societies

International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology,  2015 – Present 

Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood, 2017 – Present 

The Higher Education Academy (Fellow), 2017 – Present 

European Association of Social Psychology, 2011 – Present 

Projects

Co-I | CHAMPIONS Project (ESRC COVID Rapid Response) 2020-2022

CHAMPIONS is a national project looking at the impact of COVID and living through lockdown on children under 5 who are living in temporary accommodation (TA) due to experiencing homelessness. We are working alongside families and professionals to co-develop recommendations for future support and best practices.

These are grounded in research evidence in order to support families’ recovery after the pandemic and enable professionals to prepare for future pandemics.

Co-I | MeHeLP Project (GCRF/ESRC/AHRC) 2018-2021

Good mental health is recognised as an integral part of a person’s wellbeing and development embedded in all aspects of life, their beliefs, faith, culture, environment, spirituality, work, housing, education, family and community respect.

Our aim is to spread public awareness on mental health literacy in urban and rural India. Our work focuses on lived expertise stories of people with mental health problems and their families to promote public understanding about living with mental illness, help seeking and support for promoting mental health and wellbeing.

Our emphasis is on formulating knowledge in new, creative and accessible ways, through use of creative methodologies and media engagement as an intervention to enable knowledge to be used in genuinely empowering and emancipatory ways by the public and services in urban and rural India.

Co-I | CESAME Project (TRIUMPH) 2020-2021

The project is a collaboration between the Glasgow School of Art (GSA), De Montford University, Centre for Mental Health, and Leaders Unlocked, using a participatory design approach to work with young people from ethnically diverse groups.

Transition from primary to secondary school can be exciting, but it can also be a stressful experience for young people and can have a negative impact on their mental health. Young people from ethnically diverse groups may be particularly poorly supported in the transition process, and we have very little knowledge of their transition experiences. A participatory design approach enables understanding by focusing on their lived experience to create new insights and opportunities for co-designing future experiences.

Conference attendance

INVITED TALKS (2016 ONWARDS)

Invited Keynote and Panelist Participatory Models of Research for Community Mental Health. Taxila International Conference, Guyana, 2021

Svirydzenka, N. (26, May 2021). Participatory And Creative Models of Research For Community Mental Health. Modern Approaches for Better Health 8th International Congress,Gomel State University, Belarus.

Svirydzenka, N. (15 May 2018). Introducing ‘Culture’ in the Curriculum: Cultural Literacy in Teaching & Studying Psychology. Invited talk at 3T Session, De Montfort University.

Svirydzenka, N., Dogra, N., & Vostanis, P. (9 May 2016). Ethnicity, migration history and mental health of Indian and White British adolescents. Tilburg University, NDL.

SELECTED CHAIRED CONFERENCE SESSIONS

Svirydzenka, N. (Jul. 2021). Global narratives on mental health and wellbeing: Stories from India. Symposium at International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) 25th International Congress

Svirydzenka, N. (Oct. 2019). Positive Development and Critical Perspectives on Emerging Adulthood. Paper Session at Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood, Toronto, Canada

SELECTED CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS (2016 ONWARDS)

Svirydzenka, N. & MeHeLP Team (16-18, Sep. 2021) Co-producing Mental Health literacy in communities in India using Applied theatre methodology. WASP Asia – Pacific Hybrid Congress, New Delhi, India.

Svirydzenka, N. & MeHeLP Team (27-31, Jul. 2021) Urban and Rural narratives of carers, users, and community members on mental health literacy in Kerala, India. International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) 25th International Congress, Online

Svirydzenka, N., Sharshakova, T., Wiium, N., & Dimitrova. R. (10-12, Oct. 2019). Positive Youth Development and Developmental Assets of Emerging Adults in Belarus.Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood 9th Congress, Toronto, Canada.

Svirydzenka, N. (19-20 Sep. 2019). Participatory research with young people with mental health needs.Mental Health, Migration, and Resilience Conference, Pune, India.

Svirydzenka, N., Sharshakova, T., Wiium, N., & Dimitrova. R. (25-26, Oct. 2018). Positive Youth Development of Emerging Adults in Belarus. Modern Approaches for Better Health 7th International Congress,Gomel State University, Belarus.

Svirydzenka, N., Adams, B. G., and van de Vijver, F. (2-5 Jul. 2018). Inclusive Identity and Multicultural Attitudes as Factors in Academic Engagement and Motivation in BAME and White British youth in the UK.International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) 24rdInternational Congress, Guelph, Canada.

Svirydzenka, N., Adams, B. G., and van de Vijver, F. (2-4 Nov. 2017). Inclusivity and Multicultural Attitudes as Factors in Academic Engagement and Motivation of Emerging Adults in the UK. Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood, Washington DC, US.

Svirydzenka, N., Dogra, N., & Vostanis, P. (30 Jul.-3 Aug. 2016). Ethnicity, migration history and mental health of Indian and White British adolescents.International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP) 23rdInternational Congress, Nagoya, Japan.

Current research students

Lois Dugmore Mental health service use by Polish migrants in the UK, First supervisor

Paul Mulvenna Interoception and emotion recognition in bipolar disorder, First supervisor

Prisca Juma-Phiri Sexual heal of HIV positive women in Malawi, First supervisor

Rahaf Koja Resilience in Syrian Refugees, Second supervisor

Externally funded research grants information

  • £60k, Gender Based Violence Research Network India (AHRC, PI), 2022-2023

  • £20k, Organisational Inclusion of Cultural Diversity (NHS commission, PI) 2022 - 2023

  • £522k, Impact of COVID on children experiencing homelessness (UKRI/ESRC, Co-I), 2020 – 22

  • £30k, Mental health & cultural diversity in school transition (TRIUMPH Network, Co-I), 2020 – 21 

  • £687k, Mental health literacy in communities in India (GCRF/ESRC/AHRC, Co-I), 2018 – 21