Public Engagement on Mental Health

Pressures of modern life mean carving out time for extra activities can be difficult, so you may wonder why people are motivated to participate in engagement events.

For just the refund of their travel expenses, over 35 members of the public gathered at the latest Have Your Say event in Preston on 20th October to help shape new research concepts in the field of Improving Mental Health, one of the key themes identified for reducing health inequalities across its region by CLAHRC NWC.

Encompassing a range from early twenties to late sixties, age is no barrier in having a voice as representatives gathered from Cumbria to Cheshire.

Tim (pictured left with Mo) tells his own views on why he is travelling to the Gujarat Hindu Society for the meeting.

“I want to involve the public and people, who have accessed mental health services, in research and help to decide priorities on what kind of mental health services we have in the near future."

Another crusader for change is John, who is open about his journey in and out of hospital through psychotic episodes since he was 17. Now 41, he is keen to ensure research encourages individual empowerment which, he argues, should be at the heart of future service provision.  “I have witnessed a lot in terms of mental health treatments and how they affect people, and I believe a big part of curing your own mental health problems is being able to know what helps you as a person. I joined a reading group and was stunned at how beneficial it was to my mental health wellbeing. In today’s world of mobile phones and being online 24/7 I think we need to look at more simple, basic things we can do to self-calm ourselves.”

At the half-day event all of the attendees were provided with an outline of the objectives of the day. “We want a clear idea of one or two topic areas which we will focus on for a research outline for submission to CLAHRC NWC for funding,” says Rhiannon Corcoran, Co-Lead for the Improving Mental Health theme.

This event follows up a similar one hosted in June that secured the same audience’s initial views on research and what was important to them.

Today takes that process a step further and the group are asked to consider from a list what should be the 4 priorities for a potential research proposal.

Choice, Person Centred Treatment and Communications are themes which need to be represented according to consensus and the resulting frontrunners agreed are:

  • Does access to individualised care improve long-term health?
  • Can a choice of options (including but not restricted too traditional medicines) communicated between psychiatrists and patients, improve long-term care. This will focus on language and communication techniques.
  • How can we best manage early intervention in young people transferring to adult mental health service provision to protect mental wellbeing?
  • Can we reduce mental health stigma with medical professions through improved training? 

Rhiannon adds: “We’ve developed a network of like-minded people wanting to make change. This is the CLAHRC NWC in action and taking members of the public on a journey to form a research proposal.”

Mo is another pilgrim for improved mental health and is proud to have contributed to the day. “We’ve been given a chance to make an impact. The networking I’ve done today, listening to so many great ideas, has blown me away. To input on what research can help shape future mental health services means we can make a difference and that is real public involvement.”    

The next meeting of the Have Your Say group narrows the ideas down to two, upon which formal research proposals will be developed for consideration by the CLAHRC NWC Steering Board.


More articles     Posted on: 27 October 2015