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Personal profile

Academic Background

I am a Research Associate in Optimising Wellbeing, and a Senior Wellbeing Advisor in Norwich Medical School. I currently work on the NICHE funded project exploring Interprofessional Student Schwartz Rounds and their role as a form of reflective practice in supporting the wellbeing of health and social care trainees.

I have a keen interest in mental health research, especially regarding the ways students and universities talk about mental health. I am particularly interested in the ways that students may be missed by, or not engage with, traditional methods of mental health promotion and help-seeking pathways. I have recently completed my PhD exploring disclosure and help-seeking of mental health within the student population. 

I completed my PhD in the School of Health Sciences in September 2023 with the thesis 'Understanding Postgraduate Research Students Disclosure of Mental Health Challenges within the UK University Context'.

Prior to this, I completed my MSc in Clinical Psychological Research (Distinction) and BSc Psychology and Philosophy (2:1) at Keele University. 

Key Research Interests

I am interested in student mental health, PGR mental health, disclosure and help-seeking, particularly for students with caring responsibilities and those in medical and health training programmes.

  • Zile A., Porter, B., Crozier, K., Sanderson, K. (2023). The mental health of UK Postgraduate Research Students following the COVID-19 pandemic. Education Sciences. 13 (11)
  • Spacey, R., Sanderson, R. and Zile, A. (2022) Who Cares? Identifying, understanding, and supporting the work-life balance and wellbeing of students with caring responsibilities. IMPact e-journal.
  • Jackman, C., Sanderson, R., Haughey, T. J., Brett, C. E., White, N., Zile, A., Tyrrell, K. & Byrom, N. C. (2021). The impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown in the UK for doctoral and early career researchers. Higher Education
  • https://wonkhe.com/blogs/who-cares-about-the-carers/
  • https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20230214074542959


I have worked closely for a number of years with Student Minds (the UK's student mental health charity), as a member of their Personal Experience Advisory Committee in 2013, their Steering Group in 2015 and as a member of their Policy Panel. I currently work as a University Mental Health Charter Assessor. 

I am a co-facilitator of the SMaRteN Early Career Researcher Lab Group, and worked with SMaRteN and Vitae on research around the impact of Covid-19 on the mental health and wellbeing of PhD students and early career researchers.

I am a trained Mental Health First Aider, physical health First Aider, i-Act practitioner and Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Invited Talks

  • Universities UK Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference (2023) Compassionate academic processes and communication
  • Durham University Research Development Conference (2023) Accessing support for mental health as an LGBTQ+ student
  • University Alliance Doctoral Training Partnership (2023) University Mental Health Day Conference
  • UKCGE Belonging in Postgraduate Researchers (2023) workshop
  • Arden University QUEST Seminar Series (2022) seminar
  • Student Mental Health Research Network (2021) seminar
  • UKCGE 2nd International Conference on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers (2021) Keynote panellist
  • National Association of Disability Practitioners Conference (2014) Keynote speaker
  • Student Minds Grand Challenges Conference (2014) Panellist

Oral presentations

  • UKCGE 3rd International Conference on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers (2022) 20 minute presentation
  • UKCGE 3rd International Conference on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers (2022) 2x small group workshops
  • SMaRteN Network Showcase (2022) Lightning talk & Poster
  • European Psychiatric Association Section of Epidemiology and Social Psychiatry Congress (2022) ECR Rapid-fire presentation
  • UKCGE International Conference on Doctoral Education (2022) 10 minute presentation
  • City University of London Student Mental Health Conference (2022) Poster presentation
  • Institute of Mental Health Annual Conference (2022) 5 minute presentation
  • 2nd International Conference on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers (2021) Keynote Panellist and 20:20 Presentation
  • University of East Anglia Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Postgraduate Research Conferences Poster (2020) 10 minute talk (2021)
  • Keele University Postgraduate Student Psychology Conference (2015) 10 minute presentation
  • British Psychological Society Annual Conference (2014) Research poster


  • Student Mental Health Research Network (SMaRteN): £25,000 ‘Who Cares? Identifying, understanding, and supporting the work-life balance of students with caring responsibilities’ (PI: Dr Rachel Spacey)
  • British Psychological Society Research Assistantship: Project time and £1600 living costs


  • Special Merit in Research Award (2022), University of East Anglia Researcher Summit: Received for my PhD work
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Postgraduate Community Award (2022), UEASU: Received for my contributions to the Postgraduate Student Community
  • Engagement Award (2021/2022), University of East Anglia: Received as part of Headucate: University of East Anglia’s outreach work
  • Impact and Innovation Award Finalist, University of East Anglia: Finalist for the ‘Impact and Innovation Awards’ as part of Headucate UEA

Personal and Professional Development:

  • Staff Wellbeing Ambassador (School of Health Sciences, 2022-2023)
  • Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee: Postgraduate Representative (School of Health Sciences, 2021-2023)
  • PGR Representative, School of Health Sciences (2021-2023)
  • Bitesize PhD Seminar co-facilitator, University of East Anglia Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (2021-2023)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2021-present)
  • University Mental Health Charter Assessor (2021-present)
  • Mental Health First Aider (2020-present)
  • Dementia Friend (2020-present)
  • Registered IAPT Practitioner (2022-present)
  • Peer Assisted Learning Mentor (2021-2023)
  • Student Mental Health Research Network Early Career and Postgraduate Researcher Lab Group co-facilitator, SMaRteN (2020-present)

Teaching Experience

  • MBBS (Problem Based Learning) facilitated weekly problem-based learning workshops for Year 1 and Year 3 students, including providing pastoral support and signposting.
  • MBBS (Medical Research Module) Delivered multiple workshops and marked 40 Analytical Review assignments (>500 words)
  • Occupational Therapy Apprenticeship Degree Programme (Research Practice Module) Developed and delivered multiple lectures on Qualitative Methods
  • Occupational Therapy Degree Programme (Evidence Based Practice Module) Marked 25 summative essays
  • MSc Mental Health Nursing: Adult and Children (Principles and Practice of Health Research Module) Developed and delivered multiple lectures on Qualitative Methods
  • Brilliant Club Seren Award (Researching Mental Health and Wellbeing) Developed and delivered seminars and marked 36 800-1,000-word essays

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of East Anglia

7 Jan 202030 Sep 2023

Award Date: 29 Sep 2023

Master in Science

Award Date: 1 Sep 2016

External positions

University Mental Health Charter Assessor, Student Minds

1 Jan 2021 → …

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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