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14th February 2021

There can be little doubt that the medical, educational and economic uncertainty we are currently passing through will leave some serious mental health problems in its wake. And while the campaigns in the before time (prior to the pandemic) have done much to raise our awareness of mental health, awareness is not going to be enough to deal with what is to come, we are going to need some actual understanding, and that’s where Dr Dean Burnett comes in

The neuroscientist, who tragically lost his own father to the pandemic, has set out to prepare us for the coming mental health crisis by promoting just such understanding. Including the surprising fact that the young and those with pre-existing issues have remained largely resilient throughout the pandemic and may even have benefited. So it is that SITP Online offers a timely welcome to the good doctor and his talk on the science of mental health.

Cambridge Skeptics

The Science of Mental Health
with Dr Dean Burnett
Thursday, 18th February 2021 at 7:00pm
Mental health awareness is a very big concern in 2021, particularly with the impact of the pandemic and lockdown. But while being aware that mental health can and does go wrong is important, very little attention is paid to how and why this happens. In his new book, Psycho Logical, neuroscientist, author, and former Psychiatry lecturer Dr Dean Burnett explores all that and more, using the latest science to explain what happens in the brain when mental health goes awry, how these problems and treated and why they work (or often don't), and why the whole issue is so slippery and uncertain, and why stigma still endures despite everythingDean will also be answering questions and challenging misconceptions about mental health flagged up by the SITP community, making this talk very unique

Dr Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist, lecturer, author, blogger, podcaster, pundit, science communicator, comedian and numerous other things, depending on who’s asking and what they need. Previously employed as a psychiatry tutor and lecturer at the Cardiff University Centre for Medical Education, Dean is currently an honorary research associate at Cardiff Psychology School, as well as a Visiting Industry Fellow at Birmingham City University. However, Dean is currently a full-time author, previously known for his satirical science column ‘Brain Flapping‘ at the Guardian, which ran from 2012 to 2018. This led to his internationally acclaimed bestselling debut book ‘The Idiot Brain‘, which has resulted in several further books and even more interesting brain stuff

Useful Links:

One in four of us experience a mental health problem each year, with anxiety and depression alone affecting over 500 million people worldwide. Why are these conditions so widespread? What is it about modern life that has such an impact on our mental health? And why is there still so much confusion and stigma around these issues?

In Psycho-Logical, neuroscientist and bestselling author Dean Burnett answers these questions and more, revealing what is actually going on in our brains when we suffer mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and addictionCombining illuminating scientific research with first-hand insights from people who deal with mental health problems on a daily basis, this is an honest, entertaining and reassuring account of how and why these issues occur, and how to make sense of them..

'Compelling and wise and rational.' - Jon Ronson

It turns out there could be some good consequences for the mental health of the population that come from the pandemic, explains Dr Dean Burnett for The Big Issue.
But as masks become commonplace, it’s interesting to consider how they affect our interaction. Wearing face masks could affect how we communicate, writes Dean Burnett for BBC Science Focus.
Stay at home. Don’t visit friends and family, and don’t have them visit you. Keep clear of strangers. A lot of people are struggling with the 'stay at home' order. But why do people find staying apart so hard? Asks Dean Burnett for BBC Science Focus.
While TED talks and internet memes spread fears we're being mind-controlled by our feline friends, the reality might be somewhat less dramatic, writes Lydia Hemus for The Skeptic.
Two bored Spanish students invented a hoax therapy to demonstrate how misleading alt-med could be... then therapists asked if they could sell it, writes Fernando Cervera for The Skeptic.
By blaming an unseen "They" for all that's wrong, conspiracy theories block any genuine skepticism - and that's what makes them so dangerous - writes Aaron Rabinowitz for The Skeptic.
Join Dr Jacques Launay to explore the role of music in social bonding and whether it's best understood as the alternative to language. This event, which was streamed live on 11th February 2021, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join microbiologust Virginia Ng and marketer David Frank for a regurgitated history of dangerous products. This event, which was streamed live on 4th February 2021, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join Prof. Phil Scraton for a critique the reformist ‘rehabilitation’ agenda and an exploration of the potential for prison abolition. This event, which was streamed live on 28th January 2021, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Cambridge Skeptics is a not-for-profit community organisation run by volunteers. To support our online presence during the pandemic, we are currently looking for:
  • Blog / Newsletter Contributors
  • Social Media Posters
  • Online Events Co-ordinators
Please get in touch if you'd like to get involved.

We are a coalition of UK-based Skeptics groups. Formed as the COVID-19 pandemic brought our country to a standstill, we are working to deliver high-quality online events focusing on Science, reason, and critical thinking. Every Thursday at 7 pm BST, you will find us presenting live-streamed talks, all for free – you don’t even need to create an account. Simply open up Take a look at our events, past and future, we’re sure you’ll see a lot of content you will find interesting.
The Good Thinking Society is a nonprofit organisation promoting scientific scepticism established by Simon Singh in September 2012. ​The society aims to raise awareness of and fund sceptical projects. The goal of the society is 'to encourage curiosity and promote rational thinking'. In partnership with its advisory board the organisation has run several successful campaigns promoting public awareness of such issues. To find out more about The Good Thinking Society, please visit

The Cambridge Humanist Group is a welcoming and diverse community of atheists and secularists. We are committed to good company and a good life without religion. We stand up for the right of non-believers to be free from imposition by religious views and organisations. We run Sunday coffee mornings at CB2 Bistro, hold a pub social at a central Cambridge venue on most 1st Thursdays of the month, hold discussions and various social events throughout the year.

The Cambridge Alehouse Philosophers are a group of people who enjoy talking about ideas, and who are philosophically inclined or would like to find out more about philosophy. Once per month, one of our members will prepare a short talk for the evening and discussions will start to spin off from that; we also have organised debates; otherwise, we simply meet up for a sociable chat. Everyone is welcome, we have absolute beginners to philosophy as well as people who been involved in the subject for some time.

The effective altruism community is a global community of people who care deeply about the world, make benefiting others a significant part of their lives, and use evidence and reason to figure out how best to do so. In Cambridge, our local effective altruism community runs plenty of events each week, including lectures, workshops, discussion groups, socials and trips away.
Cambridge Skeptics is a not-for-profit community organisation run by volunteers. The organisation aims to promote science, positive skepticism and critical thinking skills via public engagement.

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