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Career Development Event: Disability and mental health in academia

10.00, Tuesday 19 July 2022

Online Online

What sort of barriers do academics with a disability face? How can you best support your colleague with a disability? What tools do you need to be a good ally, identify discriminative behaviours, and address them?  

With this career development event, we aim to answer these questions. We will explore some of the implications of having a disability in academia and working with academics with a disability, as well as helpful reflections on ways to address them.

This will be possible with the help of our speakers:

Professor Marie Johnston FRSE FMedSci (chair) - Emeritus Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and a registered Health and Clinical Psychologist. Following a postdoctoral post in the University of Oxford she held academic posts in London University at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and St Andrews University before moving to Aberdeen. 

Dr Neil Alexander-Passe - experiences dyslexia himself, and has over the last 20 years specialised in the emotional experience of having a learning difference. He has published thirteen books and ten peer review papers in the field of dyslexia, looking at correlations with mental health, creativity, parenting and marriage. He gained his PhD in 2018 investigating ‘Dyslexia, Traumatic Schooling, and Post-School Success.’ His current focus is with a ‘bi-ability’ theoretical model for dyslexia and the use of a ‘post-traumatic growth (PTG)’ concept to understand how many individuals with dyslexia can be successful ‘despite or because’ they experienced traumatic schooling as children. Neil is the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCO) at a large secondary school in North London, and an Expert SEND Adviser for the UK’s Department of Education (Standards and Testing Agency). Neil is Scientific Board Member for the Asia Pacific Journal of Developmental Differences, Dyslexia Association of Singapore

Dr Gayle Brewer - Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool. She is a chartered member of the British Psychological Society and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Dr Brewer has doctorates in both Psychology and Education. She has published a book on disability in Higher Education and recently represented the National Association of Disabled Staff Networks at the House of Commons inquiry into Diversity in STEM. She has also been nominated for a National Diversity Award in the Positive Role Model (Disability) category.

Dr Anica Zeyen -  Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Sustainability at the School of Business and Management at Royal Holloway University of London. She is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Director for her School and chairs the Disability and Mental Health Staff Network as well as the Inclusive Culture and Environment Strategy Working Group. Her research focusses on inclusive organizing for disability. Anica conducts research on work and meaning as well as the role of (social) entrepreneurship in disability inclusion. Anica is a guest editor of two special issues on disability-related topics in leading management and marketing journals. Due to her lived experience as a blind woman and guide dog user, Anica advocates for disability inclusion in her research and activism work. She serves as a committee member in a local disabled people’s organisation and volunteers as fundraising group coordinator, speaker and campaigner for the Guide Dogs. Anica is a keen traveller and foodie.



Time Event segment Lead
10.00 Welcome and intro Professor Marie Johnston, FRSE FMedSci
10.05 Systemic issues affecting people with disabilities and how to address them + Q&A  Dr Gayle Brewer
10.25 Dyslexia and Mental Health + Q&A  Dr Neil Alexander-Passe
10.45 Break  
10.55 Workshop - Ableism in Higher Education   Dr Anica Zeyen
12.25 Closing remarks

Professor Marie Johnston, FRSE FMedSci

AMS Staff

12.30 End of event  


Download the full agenda.


To capture the discussion we produced a visual note with Scriberia: