Dr Sarah-Jane Hannah Fenton BSc(Hons); PGCert; PGCert ; MPhil; PhD

Dr Sarah-Jane Hannah Fenton

Health Services Management Centre
Lecturer in Mental Health Policy

Contact details

School of Social Policy, HSMC
Park House
University of Birmingham
B15 2RT

Dr Sarah-Jane Fenton is a Lecturer in Mental Health Policy based in the Health Services Management Centre and the Institute for Mental Health (IMH).

The Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) at the University of Birmingham is one of the UK's foremost centres for research, evaluation, teaching and professional development for health and social care organisations. The Institute for Mental Health (IMH) is an interdisciplinary research centre with a specific youth mental health focus that will deliver high quality internationally relevant research to inform and impact upon public policy and practice and improve the care and outcomes for people experiencing problems with their mental health.

Sarah-Jane has particular expertise in youth, adolescence, mental health, health policy, realist and qualitative research.


  • 2019-2020 PGCert, Higher Education, University of Birmingham 
  • 2012 – 2016 PhD, University of Birmingham (awarded December 2016) & University of Melbourne (awarded August 2017)
  • 2015 PGCert Advanced Research Methods and Skills, University of Birmingham (Excellent)
  • 2009-2011 PGCert, Psychodynamic Approaches to Working with Adolescents, Tavistock & Portman Clinic (Distinction)
  • 2005-2007 MPhil, Comparative Social Policy, University of Oxford
  • 2001-2004 BSc (Hons), Geography, University of Exeter (1st)


Find out more about Trailblazer

Sarah-Jane completed her Doctoral Research in 2016, graduating with a dual award degree from the University of Birmingham (2016) and the University of Melbourne (2017). This research explored mental health policy and service delivery for adolescents and young people aged 16-25 years of age. It was a comparative study exploring policy and systems in the UK with those in Australia; and delivery of services to people experiencing mental ill health aged between 16-25 years old. 

Sarah-Jane held a post-doctoral Research Fellow post on an NIHR funded study evaluating the use of patient experience data to improve the quality of inpatient mental health care (EURIPIDES). She re-joined the University of Birmingham as a lecturer in mental health policy in 2018 and she currently co-leads the Innovation in Policy Systems and Services (IPSS) research theme within the IMH. Sarah-Jane was the Post-Graduate taught co-lead for IMH and led on the development of the Masters in Mental Health (MSc).


Sarah-Jane has taught across a range of modules in the Institute for Mental Health, the Department of Social Policy Sociology and Criminology and the Department of Social Work and Social Care at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate level.

Postgraduate supervision

Sarah-Jane is interested in supervising PhD work related to youth mental health; mental health policy and practice; qualitative research involving realist methodologies; and research into health and social care involving young people.

Doctoral research


Find out more about EURIPIDES

Research interests

Youth; mental health; mental health policy and service delivery; realist methodology; international social policy; and comparative research.

Research projects

2020-2024 Co-Investigator – UKRI/ESRC Research Grant, ODA, Colombia – Mapping Mental Health Resources for Young People Living in a Conflict Context at The Colombian Pacific Region, University of Birmingham in partnership with Universidad de los Andes (Colombia)

2019-2022 Project team member – NIHR HS&DR – Early evaluation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Trailblazer programme, University of Birmingham

2016 –2018 Research Fellow – Evaluating the Use of Patient Experience Data to Improve the Quality of Inpatient Mental Health Care (EURIPIDES) study, University of Warwick Medical School

2015 –2016 Research Fellow – Family Potential Research Centre for Policy and Practice Research – working on an ESRC Knowledge Exchange project looking at family inclusive policy and practice, University of Birmingham

2014 Research Assistant – Health Exchange project ‘Workplace wellbeing programmes and their impact on employees and their employing organisations: evidence from firms’ – University of Birmingham

2014 Research Assistant – 21st Century Public Servant research – Melbourne School of Government – University of Melbourne

2014 Research Assistant – Faculty of Arts Finance Office – ARC budget centre – University of Melbourne

2013 – 2014 Research Assistant – ARC Discovery project - Melbourne School of Government – University of Melbourne

2013 Research Assistant – Community Organising – University of Birmingham

2012 Research Assistant – Birmingham Policy Commission into Ageing Well in the 21st Century – University of Birmingham


Recent publications


Jones, VR, Waring, J, Wright, N & Fenton, S-J 2024, 'A Protocol for a Rapid Realist Review of Literature Examining Co-Production in Youth Mental Health Services', Youth, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3390/youth4010001

Fenton, S-J, Rengifo Gutierrez, JR, Pinilla-Roncancio, M, Casas, G, Carranza, F, Weber, S, Jackson, P & Aranguren Romero, JP 2024, 'Macro level system mapping of the provision of mental health services to young people living in a conflict context in Colombia', BMC Health Services Research, vol. 24, no. 1, 138. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-024-10602-2

Weber, S, Carranza Franco, F, Rengifo Gutierrez, JR, Romero, C, Arrieta, S, Martinez, K, Pinilla-Roncancio, M, Fenton, S-J, Casas, G, Jackson, P & Aranguren Romero, JP 2024, 'Mapping mental health care services for children and youth population in Colombia’s Pacific: potential for boundary spanning between community and formal services', International Journal of Mental Health Systems, vol. 18, no. 1, 9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13033-024-00626-w

Isham, L, Tighe, K & Fenton, S-J 2024, 'Teaching note: personal attack or the personal touch? Evaluating the use of video feedback methods with qualifying social workers', Social Work Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2024.2358837

Fenton, S-J, Carr, S & Isham, L 2024, '‘Anyone can make bad use of a good law’: exploring how constrained choice can result in moral injury', Clinics in Integrated Care, vol. 22, 100190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intcar.2023.100190

Ellins, J, Hocking, L, Al-Haboubi, M, Newbould, J, Fenton, S-J, Daniel, K, Stockwell, S, Leach, B, Sidhu, M, Bousfield, J, McKenna, G, Saunders, K, O'Neil, S & Mays, N 2023, 'Early evaluation of the Children and Young People's Mental Health Trailblazer programme: a rapid mixed-methods study', Health and Social Care Delivery Research, vol. 11, no. 8, pp. 1-137. https://doi.org/10.3310/hsdr-tr-130818, https://doi.org/10.3310/XQWU4117

Ellins, J, Hocking, L, Al-Haboubi, M, Newbould, J, Fenton, S-J, Daniel, K, Stockwell, S, Leach, B, Sidhu, M, Bousfield, J, McKenna, G, Saunders, C, O’Neill, S & Mays, N 2023, 'Implementing mental health support teams in schools and colleges: the perspectives of programme implementers and service providers', Journal of Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638237.2023.2278101

Shrom, S, Fenton, S-J & Cumming, J 2023, 'Lifestyle challenges and mental health of professional tennis players: an exploratory case study', International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 1070-1090. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2022.2099947

Hua, P, Shakoor, S, Fenton, S-J, Freestone, M, Weich, S & Bhui, K 2023, 'Racialised Staff-Patient Relationships in Inpatient Mental Health Wards: a Realist Secondary Qualitative Analysis of Patient Experience Data', BMJ Mental Health, vol. 26, no. 1, e300661. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjment-2023-300661

Wood, E, Ohlsen, S, Fenton, S-J, Connell, J & Weich, S 2021, 'Social Prescribing for people with complex needs: a realist evaluation', BMC Family Practice, vol. 22, no. 1, 53. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12875-021-01407-x

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Glasby, J, Tew, J & Fenton, S-J 2021, UK mental health policy and practice. in G Ikkos & N Bouras (eds), Mind, State and Society: Social History of Psychiatry and Mental Health in Britain 1960–2010. Cambridge University Press, pp. 93-102. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781911623793.012

Commissioned report

Ellins, J, Singh, K, Al-Haboubi, M, Newbould, J, Hocking, L, Bousfield, J, McKenna, G, Fenton, S-J & Mays, N 2021, Early evaluation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Trailblazer programme: Interim report. <https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/documents/college-social-sciences/social-policy/brace/trailblazer.pdf>

Review article

Members of the Institute for Mental Health Youth Advisory Group 2023, 'Urban precarity and youth mental health: an interpretive scoping review of emerging approaches', Social Science and Medicine, vol. 320, 115619. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115619

Lee, R, Leighton, SP, Thomas, L, Gkoutos, G, Wood, S, Fenton, S-J, Deligianni, F, Cavanagh, J & Mallikarjun, P 2022, 'Prediction models in first episode psychosis: a systematic review and critical appraisal', British Journal of Psychiatry , vol. 220, no. 4, pp. 179-191. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2021.219

Winsper, C, Crawford-Docherty, A, Weich, S, Fenton, S-J & Singh, S 2020, 'How do recovery-oriented interventions contribute to personal mental health recovery? A systematic review and logic model', Clinical Psychology Review, vol. 76, 101815, pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2020.101815

View all publications in research portal


Mental health; policy; youth; adolescence