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Dr Helena King

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am an interdisciplinary social scientist and aspire to be a flexible and supportive conduit of work which improves the health of disenfranchised underserved communities.  My PhD and UKRI post doctoral studies researched psychosocial phenomena associated with nature interactions in the context of landuse management and biodiversity levels.   I then applied this knowledge via a fully funded NERC KTP internship (Natural Environmental Council Knowledge Transfer Partnership) shaping policy on UK quarry restoration to maximise benefits to nature and human wellbeing.

Following this I worked in the third sector gaining experience in health and social care practice and frontline community services.   Roles included a partnerships manager in a regional hospice that cared for children and adults with life limiting conditions, a senior manager in a social enterprise helping people experiencing homelessness, and consultancy for a charity supporting people living with HIV.   In these roles I co-designed projects with practitioners, applied for grant and corporate funding, monitored project impacts and wrote reports for public sector and philanthropic funders.   I returned to higher education in 2017 as a project manager in the Faculty of Business and Law, undertaking diverse activities including research portfolio and funding pipeline management, data collection, textual output creation, webdesign, direction/production of videos, event management and evidence into practice activities.           

I started teaching in 2019 in the Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise, whereby I led first year curriculum development on vulnerability, multi-agency working and public protection and was one of the module leads for the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship.  Between 2021 and 2023 as a secondee to the School of Health Wellbeing and Social Care I developed second year curriculum on the social and environmental determinants of mental health.  I have undertaken a Teaching Excellence Framework project to design wellbeing resources for students and produced online distance learning content on topics such as third sector healthcare, biopsychosocial theory, mental health impacts of long-term physical conditions and health stigma.    

Since 2019 I have led 2 internally funded research projects on third sector delivery of mental healthcare to stigmatised groups, and have been co-investigator on a further three externally funded projects in collaboration with colleagues from KCL and UCL.  

Research interests

I am a mixed methods researcher invested in spatially and/or bodily situated research which elucidates bidirectional links between socio-physical environments and mental/physical health.  My work wherever possible is applied, coproduced, salutogenic and policy/practice-orientated. I naturally gravitate towards understanding interconnected issues that bridge sectoral, disciplinary and unit of analysis boundaries.

I am currently focused on publishing findings from projects framed by theory on health stigma.  The key populations in these papers are emergency responders and people living with complex multimorbidities.  Through this work I am developing an understanding of the manifestation of vulnerability, how internalised stigma affects self-care and help seeking behaviours, and the role of the third sector in delivering healthcare which can meet the specialised needs of marginalised individuals.

Teaching interests

Current teaching:

  • K240/3 Mental health and society
  • K314 Approaches to mental health

Past teaching

  • BXY132 Concepts and theories in policing

I am developing my skills in technology-enhanced learning via an OU postgraduate qualification (F70) and forming a scholarship idea around the application of sound learning theory to enhance the function of audio materials in online distance pedagogy.


Prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Mental Health Service Users: a Retrospective Cohort Study (2023)
Heslin, Margaret; Jewell, Amelia; Croxford, Sara; Chau, Cuong; Smith, Shubulade; Rudiger, Pittrof; Covshoff, Elana; Sullivan, Ann; Delpech, Valerie; Brown, Alison; King, Helena P.; Kakaiya, Mina; Campbell, Lucy; Hughes, Elizabeth and Stewart, Robert
BMJ Open ((In Press))

Prevalence of HIV in mental health service users: a retrospective cohort study. (2023)
Heslin, Margaret; Jewell, Amelia; Croxford, Sara; Chau, Cuong; Smith, Shubulade; Pittrof, Rudiger; Covshoff, Elana; Sullivan, Ann; Delpech, Valerie; Brown, Alison; King, Helena; Kakaiya, Mina; Campbell, Lucy; Hughes, Elizabeth and Stewart, Robert
BMJ Open, 13, Article e067337(4)

The importance of landscape characteristics for the delivery of cultural ecosystem services (2018-01-15)
Ridding, Lucy E; Redhead, John W; Oliver, Tom H; Schmucki, Reto; McGinlay, James; Graves, Anil R; Morris, Joe; Bradbury, Richard B; King, Helen and Bullock, James M
Journal of Environmental Management, 206 (pp. 1145-1154)

Biodiversity and cultural ecosystem benefits in lowland landscapes in southern England (2017-11)
King, Helen; Morris, Joe; Graves, Anil; Bradbury, Richard B.; McGinlay, James and Bullock, James M.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 53 (185 - 197)

Emergency Responders Mental Health & Wellbeing Project (2020)
Sharp, Marie-Louise; Harrison, Virginia; Soloman, Noa; King, Helen; Fear, Nicola and Pike, Graham
In : Emergency Responders Research Symposium: Mental Health & Wellbeing (30 Jan 2020, London)

Exploring charity sector wellbeing support for police (2019-09-10)
King, Helen; Harrison, Virginia and Pike, Graham
In : 2019 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference: A civil society for the future: setting the agenda for the voluntary sector and volunteering research in the 2020s (10-11 Sep 2019, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

Assessing the mental health and wellbeing of the Emergency Responder community in the UK (2020-06)
Sharp, Marie-Louise; Harrison, Virginia; Solomon, Noa; Fear, Nicola; King, Helen and Pike, Graham
Open University and Kings College London, London.

A glimpse into the realm of police wellbeing charities (2020-01)
King, Helen; Harrison, Virginia and Pike, Graham
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.