Wednesday 06 February 2019

18:00 - 19:30

Moore Auditorium

Understanding Autism and Mental Health

During this lecture, Dr Eilidh Cage will discuss the relationships between autism and mental health. Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition and autistic individuals experience very high rates of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Eilidh will outline what autism is (and what it is not), talk about the interplay between autism and mental health, take a closer look at this in girls and women, and finally she will discuss the impact of society and stigma on the mental health of autistic people.    

Dr Eilidh Cage is a lecturer in the Psychology Department at Royal Holloway, and has focused much of her research on autism and mental health, for example how experiences of the acceptance of autism can impact on the mental health of autistic individuals. The following is taken from her page on the psychology department's website:

"My research focuses mainly on autism spectrum conditions, and I am interested in a number of different topics. I am interested in understanding more about the high prevalence of mental health difficulties in autistic adults. For example, I have examined how experiences of autism acceptance might impact on mental health. I am also interested in public perceptions and understanding/misunderstanding of autism, and how to improve acceptance. Further, I am interested in these topics within Higher Education, and how we can make universities a more accessible place for autistic students. 

Previously, my research considered whether autistic individuals manage their reputation and what factors underpinned the ability to manage reputation (such as social norms, being able to think about other’s thoughts and the motivation to have friends). Related to this topic, I am interested in the idea of "masking" or "camouflaging" in autism - where individuals invest energy into "passing" as non-autistic - and the effects camouflaging might have on mental health. 

I am also interested in self and identity in autism, for example, how autistic individuals themselves define and describe autism and how autistic adolescents develop their sense of identity. 

Finally, I am also interested in mental health in students (both autistic and non-autistic), and understanding how we can best support students who have mental health difficulties."