ESRC Digital Good Network


Digital technologies, mental health and wellbeing

ESRC Festival of Social Science: Digital Technologies, Mental Health and Wellbeing

This event took place on Monday 30 October 2023.

The Digital Good Network was delighted to take part in the ESRC Festival of Social Science, which is held in Sheffield.

Our public event brought together our expert panellists (listed below) with both online and face to face audiences, to discuss digital technologies in relation to mental health and wellbeing.

From online wellness communities to mental health apps, digital technologies are increasingly central to wellbeing. While these technologies aim to have positive effects on their users mental health, the fact is that such well-intentioned technologies can end up doing harm. Our expert panel work on how digital technologies can promote wellbeing and the challenges of doing so.

Hosted by the ESRC Digital Good Network, which asks: what does a good digital society look like, and how do we get there?

Watch the event recording.



Professor Neil Coulson
Neil Coulson is a Professor of Health Psychology in the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham. He is both a Chartered Psychologist (British Psychological Society) and Registered Health Psychologist (Health and Care Professions Council). His programme of research is focussed on the role of technology in supporting individuals and families affected by long-term illness, particularly online health communities. 

Dr Ysabel Gerrard
Ysabel Gerrard is a lecturer in Digital Media and Society at the University of Sheffield. Her research on social media and identity has been published in New Media & Society and Internet Policy Review, and her work has appeared in WIRED and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to her research and teaching, Ysabel is the Chair of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) Digital Culture and Communication Section (2021-2022), and a member of Facebook’s Suicide and Self-Injury (SSI) Advisory Board.

Dr Jonathan Corpus Ong
Jonathan Corpus Ong is Associate Professor of Global Digital Media at UMass Amherst. His research interests include global media ethics, digital politics, misinformation and the anthropology of humanitarianism. From 2020 to 2023, he is also Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center. With Isabelle Higgins, he works on research that complicates commonly held understandings of the digital ‘rabbit holes’ that connect digital wellness, conspiracy theories and far-right ideologies.

Isabelle Higgins
Isabelle Higgins is a postdoctoral researcher in Digital Wellness and Disinformation for the Digital Good Network. She works with Dr Jonathan Corpus Ong on research that complicates commonly held understandings of the digital ‘rabbit holes’ that connect digital wellness, conspiracy theories and far-right ideologies.

Professor Helen Kennedy
Helen Kennedy is Professor of Digital Society at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Digital Good Network. An interdisciplinary researcher, Helen has researched how digital developments are experienced by ’ordinary people,’ and how these experiences can inform the work of digital practitioners in ways that overcome inequalities for more than 20 years.