Mental health, academic life and me

by Matt Flinders

There can be little doubt that mental health is a growing global challenge. And it really is a global challenge. Although rapid rises in relation to depression, anxiety, substance misuse, self-harming and eating disorders have been well-documented in many ‘advanced’ and relatively wealthy countries, it has been estimated that over 80% of those suffering from mental health disorders actually live in the Global South where support is rare.

Seen from this perspective the potential role and impact of the social sciences in terms of helping to understand why the mental health of so many nations seems to be fraying and what might be done has never been greater. I’m not suggesting that it is the role of the social sciences to come up with simple answers to complex problems. But I am suggesting that the complexity of the mental health challenge – with its cultural, economic and political dimensions – demands an inter-disciplinary approach with the social sciences at its core. Continue reading

The rejected experts

‘Why was the evidence of academic experts ignored in the run-up to the Brexit result? And what can academics do about it?’ asks Matthew Flinders, Professor of Politics and Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield.

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One of the most interesting and worrying elements of the Brexit debate was the manner in which expert opinion was to some extent dismissed and sidelined in favour of more emotive arguments. Continue reading