Mental Health Panel
2:45pm - 3:45pm

Chair: Dr Jane Waite, Network Director


Professor Jacqui Rodgers is Chair of Psychology Mental Health and an autism researcher based at Newcastle University, UK.

Her work focuses on trying to understand the relationships between characteristics of autism (such as sensory issues and restricted and repetitive behaviours) and co-occurring mental health conditions. She has a particular interest in anxiety and suicide in autism. In collaboration with colleagues and the autism community, Jacqui has developed the first anxiety and suicidality questionnaires specifically designed and validated for autistic children and adults. She is also involved in the development and evaluation of a range of mental health focused interventions for autistic children and adults. Some of this work focused on how autistic people respond to uncertainty. 

Dr Laura Groves is currently completing a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Leicester, as well as continuing research at the Richards lab, alongside Dr Caroline Richards. This work is focused on the early identification of individuals at risk of showing behaviour that challenges (i-RiSC), and the development and delivery of preventative interventions for this (i-KNOW). Laura completed her PhD in 2019, investigating the presentation and development of anxiety and mood in rare genetic syndromes associated with intellectual disability and ASD. 


Dr Kate Anne Woodcock is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Applied

Psychology at the University of Birmingham, where she leads a research

team.  Her team’s research focuses on young people who face psychological

and behavioural difficulties, often linked to neurodevelopmental disorder. The

work has examined factors that come together to precipitate behaviours that can be challenging for people with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as emotional outbursts.  Her team is currently engaged in work that applies this knowledge to the development of intervention strategies.  For example, caregiver led behavioural support strategies, cognitive training intervention programmes, and early intervention strategies. Kate carried out her PhD research at the University of Birmingham.  Two years of her Postdoctoral Research were at Peking University, China. Kate held a lectureship position at the School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast.

Dr Rachel Royston currently works as a Clinical Trial Manager at University College London on a trial evaluating the effectiveness of a parent-mediated intervention in reducing challenging behaviour in children with intellectual disabilities. Her doctoral research focused on anxiety and mental health in adolescents and adults with Williams Syndrome (WS). This included describing the anxiety profile in people with WS and exploring causal pathways such as individual factors, environmental triggers and cognitive mechanisms that influence anxiety development and maintenance.