PhD studentship in discrimination and maternal mental health inequalities
This PhD studentship is jointly funded by the NIHR School for Public Health and the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration (YH ARC) (linked to the Early Life and Prevention and Mental Health themes), and jointly supervised by Professor Sarah Salway at the University of Sheffield and Dr. Stephanie Prady at the University of York.
The studentship will be based in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield, which is already home to several early career researchers and students who are part of the NIHR School for Public Health Research community and has strong collaborative links to the School of Health and Related Research in the Faculty of Medicine and Health.
People who are discriminated against, such as those from ethnic minority backgrounds, or those living in poverty, are more likely to have mental health problems, but are less likely to be identified as having a problem, receive treatment or be helped by treatment – the mental health inequality. The mechanisms by which disadvantage and discrimination impact on mental health are complex and multi-dimensional. Discrimination, including racism, can take many forms including structural, institutional and interpersonal. Maternal mental health problems during pregnancy and after the birth can have a negative and sometimes sustained impact on families. The perinatal period is a time of transition. Pregnant women and new mothers have increased contact with a range of health services and may experience disruption to income, living circumstances and family relationships. Exposures to interpersonal discrimination, including racism, in the maternal period have not been well characterised, and the effect of these exposures upon maternal mental health, and future life conditions and chances, is similarly under-studied. A better understanding of the nature and impacts of discrimination experienced by some women at this time in their lives is needed in order to inform potential interventions to reduce such exposures.
We welcome proposals from applicants who wish to study in the broad area of maternal mental health inequalities and discrimination. We envisage a primarily quantitative study using local or national cohort datasets, or a mixed methods study if appropriate. Proposals that include consideration of the methodological challenges of researching inequalities and mental health are welcomed. Proposals should also demonstrate a commitment to meaningful engagement with public and policy/practice stakeholders in order to increase the relevance and impact of the research.
Candidates may, if they wish, propose a study related to a broader remit of public health mental health inequalities, or mental health inequalities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a competitive process involving an online application followed by an interview (via remote means) for shortlisted candidates on 16 October 2020. The deadline for online applications is 5pm Wednesday 30 September 2020. Shortlisted candidates will be notified by Friday 9 October 2020.
Candidates with a suitable background and an interest in health inequalities are encouraged to apply. Standard entry requirements are a first or upper second class honours degree in a social science or health sciences. Candidates are expected to have completed a research-based Master’s degree – or have significant research experience – through which they have acquired advanced quantitative and/or qualitative research skills. Prior experience of social science health-related research will be an advantage.
In order to apply, you should use the University of Sheffield online system: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgradapplication. You should indicate the Department of Sociological Studies as your chosen department, Sarah Salway as your proposed supervisor and give the title of the project as SPHR/ARC Mental Health Inequalities.
You should also indicate that you are applying for a studentship.
You should include:
(i) An outline research proposal that sets out: the proposed area of study and its importance; the evidence gap to be addressed and research questions; methodology and possible data sources; ethical issues; methodological challenges; and engagement and impact activities. You should highlight any areas of uncertainty in your draft design that require clarification, and how you would go about refining your plan (maximum 1,500 words).
(ii) A personal statement setting out clearly why you are interested in this position, your future career intentions, and how your skills and experience equip you for doctoral study (maximum 600 words).
Please be aware that both the content and the standard of presentation of these pieces of writing will be taken into consideration during the shortlisting process.
Strong statements of support from suitable referees who know your academic performance will also strengthen your application.
We strongly encourage applicants from under-represented and minoritised groups, particularly people identifying as Black or ethnic minority.
The studentship will comprise fees at the UK home rate, a stipend at the UKRI rate (2020/21 £15,285) and a research costs allowance.