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Natalie Bennett

PhD student

Public mental health programme, Places & communities programme, Health inequalities theme

University of Sheffield

Research Interests

Mental health and well-being, the ethnic density effect, construction of race and ethnicity in health research, Understanding Society (UKHLS), contextual effects, the social determinants of health.

Natalie's Q&A

  • What has been your career journey so far?

    I completed my undergraduate degree in Human Geography at the University of Leicester in 2017. Following this, I went on to complete an MSc in Social Epidemiology at University College London. I secured funding for my PhD project during my MSc and moved to Sheffield to commence my PhD studies in 2018.

  • Why did you choose to do a PhD in public health research?

    Completing a PhD in public health allows me to bring together an interest in the role of both the social aspects of life and of place for health which I developed during both my previous degrees.

  • What is your research focused on?

    My research focuses on a phenomenon called the ‘ethnic density effect’ which describes the effect observed whereby as the proportion of individuals from a particular minority ethnic group in an area increases, on average their mental health is better. Specifically, my research aims to find out why this is the case and what mechanisms are involved.

  • Why is it important?

    This is important as minority ethnic groups often suffer from higher rates of mental illness. In addition, understanding the mechanisms which are operating behind the effect may offer an opportunity to enhance these beneficial aspects in areas which are less dense. It is also important in dispelling the negative discourse associated with areas which have higher densities of people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

  • What do you like about being a part of the NIHR School for Public Health Research?

    I have found being a part of NIHR School for Public Health Research very beneficial in terms of opportunities for training and career support. In addition, the annual scientific meeting and ResNet meetings provide great networking opportunities and a chance to share work and get feedback from a variety of colleagues from across the country.

  • What skills have you learnt and/or are hoping to learn as part of your PhD?

    I have developed a number of skills during my PhD, notably the ability to manage a much larger project than I have previously worked on. In addition, I had the opportunity to attend a number of training courses to develop new skills on the programming language R and in the method of Structural Equation Modelling.

  • What do you hope to do after completing your PhD?

    After completing my PhD I hope to work for local government in a public health based role.

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