Ellen Townsend

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Professor Ellen Townsend leads the Self-Harm Research Group (SHRG) within the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham. Ellen holds a BA (Hons) in Music from the University of Leeds and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Nottingham. She completed her postdoctoral work in the Centre for Suicide Research at the University of Oxford. The SHRG investigates the psychological factors associated with self-harm and suicidality, as well as establishing interventions that promote recovery using sequence analysis, the Card Sort Task for Self-Harm (CaTS) (created by SHRG), experiments, questionnaires, epidemiology, interviews and systematic reviews. SHRG research has influenced a range of policy related to the prevention and treatment of self-harm and suicidality – including policy and practice guidelines created by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, National Institute of Clinical Excellence, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Public Health England, Patient UK, Rethink Mental Illness, and the Mental Health Foundation, and we have received support from a range of funding bodies including the NHS, NIHR, MRC, MRF, Mental Health Research UK, Wellcome and the ESRC. The SHRG are Public Engagement and Involvement enthusiasts and have developed novel methods to include people with lived experience in their work. Outside of work Ellen can be found spending time with her husband and two children, singing and gardening, though not necessarily all at the same time!


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Sharpening the focus: viewing self-harm images online – harmful and protective?


Jo Lockwood, Camilla Babbage and Ellen Townsend consider a systematic review exploring the impact of viewing self-harm images online, which finds that images can trigger powerful emotions and may relate to a change in cognition, affect and behaviour.

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Risk and protective factors for childhood suicide: thoughts, plans and behaviours


In her debut blog, Ellen Townsend summarises a cohort study that explores the risk and protective factors for childhood suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

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