Building Back Better: How can we restore mental health and wellbeing after the COVID-19 pandemic?

An Alumni and supporters conference
Date14 October 2020
Time13:00 to 14:00

A panel discussion with world-leading experts from the University of Exeter looking at the impact of the pandemic on mental health and wellbeing.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has not just had an impact on people's physical health. Increased stress, loss of coping mechanisms, and reduced access to services has also had a significant impact on the mental health of people of all ages, but particularly on the most vulnerable.

In this discussion, world-leading experts from the University of Exeter will consider the impact of the pandemic on mental health and wellbeing, and draw from their research to suggest how we might improve things, for individuals and our communities in both the short and longer term.

We have a diverse panel of expertise focussing on young and old, those with specific conditions like dementia, and offering innovative solutions such as the value of spending time in nature.  We want you to get involved, pose your questions throughout the live event or submit them in advance via


Panel members

Professor Clive Ballard
Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Exeter Medical School

Clive is a world-renowned expert in dementia who has led critical research into treatments, care programmes and also prevention. Clive’s work has highlighted the harms of antipsychotic medications in people with dementia, and made a massive contribution to the 50% reduction in the use of these agents nationally and internationally. Additional research has demonstrated the potential utility of online brain training trials for maintaining cognitive health and function in later life, which has led to the PROTECT online project. During the pandemic this study into the prevention of cognitive decline was expanded to help understand the impact of COVID-19 isolation on older people and help to support them. 

Professor Ed Watkins
Professor of Experimental and Applied Clinical Psychology, University of Exeter

Ed is a research clinical psychologist and works as a researcher, teacher, clinical trainer and clinical practitioner within the Mood Disorders Centre, which is a partnership between the University of Exeter and Devon Partnership NHS Trust. He is the director of the Study of Maladaptive to Adaptive Repetitive Thought (SMART) lab and currently serves as an expert member of the NICE Guidelines for Depression in Adults from 2015-2020.

Professor Linda Clare
Professor of Clinical Psychology of Ageing and Dementia, University of Exeter

Linda leads the University’s Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health (REACH).  Her research aims to improve the lives of older people and people who are living with cognitive impairment and dementia by promoting well-being, preventing or reducing age-related disability, and improving rehabilitation and care. She is particularly known for pioneering the application of cognitive rehabilitation approaches for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. She leads the nationwide IDEAL study of people with dementia and carers (, funded as an Alzheimer’s Society Centre of Excellence, which focuses on how we can enable people to ‘live well’ with the condition.

Professor Lora Fleming
Director of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health

Lora is the director of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health and chair of oceans, epidemiology and human health at the University of Exeter Medical School. She is a board certified occupational and environmental health physician and epidemiologist with over 30 years of experience and expertise in environment and occupational exposures and human health research and training

Dr Rohit Shankar
Clinical Director, Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust

Rohit is a Consultant in Adult Developmental Neuropsychiatry at the Cornwall Foundation Trust and a Senior Clinical Lecturer at Exeter Medical School. He led an evidence-based approach to tackle the significant problem of overprescribing in people with Intellectual Disability, now being adopted nationally and internationally. Rohit was awarded an MBE in 2018 in recognition of his dedication in providing services for people with learning disabilities and epilepsy. He has established two successful public mental health campaigns in Cornwall; a monthly mental health phone-in with BBC radio Cornwall which has run continuously for 10 years, and ‘Do not flush your life away’ - a campaign aimed at raising awareness to prevent male suicides.


Please register for free here and you will receive a link to access the discussion in advance of the event.

ProviderAlumni and supporters

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