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Dr. Zoë Fortune

Dr. Zoë Fortune

Dr Zoë Fortune is an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Heriot-Watt University in Dubai, joining in August 2023. Prior to that, she was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong, where she led a Mental Health Communication & Research cluster in the Research and Impact Initiative on Communication in Healthcare (HKU RIICH). Her current research focuses on the mental health needs of graduates and employees.
Zoë has conducted research across a variety of healthcare and psychological settings, including mental health, forensic healthcare and primary care, with research on neurodiversity, brain injury, mental and physical health comorbidities and personality disorder. She has also led research within international development and charitable projects across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East with work to support human rights initiatives and improvements in healthcare communication. She is passionate about workplace mental health and in 2017, she helped set up the not-for-profit organisation, City Mental Health Alliance in Hong Kong (CMHA HK), which she led until her move to Dubai in 2021. She remains on their Advisory Group and is now part of new initiatives to support workplace mental health in the UAE. She is also a Trustee of a UK-based mental health charity.
Zoë has a BSc in Psychology from University College London. She is a qualified psychotherapist with a Masters of Counselling from Monash University in Australia and is a member of the Hong Kong Professional Counselling Association. She also holds a PhD in Health Services Research from the Institute of Psychiatry in King’s College, London.

Supporting graduates entering the workplace: Mental health, skills & digital literacies

Mental health and workplace mental health are growing global issues (World Health Organization, 2022) and within the UAE, burnout, anxiety and depression are key concerns in the private sector (Business for Wellbeing Council, 2020). The mental health of young people is a particular concern, especially during university-to-work transitions that may impact mental health and wellbeing (Robinson, 2019). The COVID-19 pandemic has had a further impact on many vulnerable groups (Alzueta et al., 2021; Cheikh Ismail et al., 2021; Halliburton et al., 2021) including young people (Parry et al., 2022; Deloitte, 2020) with additional challenges including revised work orders, changed working environments, remote working and an increasingly digitised world. Further urgent research is required on the impact for such groups (Grubic et al., 2020).
This presentation will report on the findings from the first wave of a cross-disciplinary mixed-methods research project in Hong Kong designed to understand the mental health and skills needs for young people transitioning to work during and post Covid-19. The project was designed to understand the experiences of key stakeholder groups including workplaces, universities and young people and to develop effective interventions to support transitions and protect mental health.
In this presentation, we present data triangulated from across surveys and in-depth interviews with workplaces, universities, and students and graduates graduating between 2020-2023. We use standardised and validated measures to examine the mental health, wellbeing (Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995; Topp et al., 2015) and skills (Rottinghaus et al., 2012) needs of students as they transition to the workforce and supplement this work with further quantitative and qualitative data to review the impact of new forms of digital and remote working for this vulnerable workplace group. Specifically, we delve into the skills required of young people in the workplace as they relate to technology and entering into an increasingly digitised global world.
We end with a discussion on what these findings may mean for workplaces, universities and for young people. We draw on data triangulated from across multiple stakeholder groups to present recommendations on how graduates can best be prepared for university-to-workplace transitions in the digital age with a focus on mental health and wellbeing. We welcome discussion.
This work was supported by the Research Grants Council, Hong Kong, China.

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