At St George’s, University of London we undertake innovative, high quality research about mental health, aiming to improve mental health service delivery and impact positively on people's lives. This research is informed by a shared set of values and aspirations that underpin our distinctive approach:
The way we do our research is shaped by a diversity of lived experience of mental distress and of using mental health services. Many of our team explicitly use their own experiences of mental distress in developing, doing and leading our research.
Our research is embedded within a social and community understanding of mental health, exploring how complex intersections of identity, disadvantage and experiences of trauma relate to mental health and the effectiveness of mental health services.
We coproduce research by integrating experiential, academic and clinical knowledge into the research process, and by collaborating with a wide range of community sector, university and health service partners.
We use a range of methodologies and technologies in our research – from in-depth qualitative approaches to randomised controlled trials – while seeking to be innovative and critical in our research as we address challenging contemporary questions.
We provide a supportive, inclusive and friendly research environment, offering a creative space that enables us to undertake research about things that matter to us personally.
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The EFFIP study (E-support for Families and Friends of Individuals affected by Psychosis) is an NIHR funded study developing and evaluating, through a randomized controlled trial, an interactive online resource for carers, called COPe-support (Carers for People with Psychosis e-support resource).
The DECISION study, funded by NIHR, evaluates new mental health decision units in England, set up to support people in mental health crisis and reduce visits and long waits at A&E and avoid unnecessary inpatient admissions. This study uses novel quasi-experimental research methods alongside in-depth qualitative enquiry in partnership with a number of NHS Trusts, University College London, London School of Economics and The Health Foundation.
ENRICHis an NIHR funded research programme that aims to develop, pilot and trial a peer worker intervention to improve the outcomes and experience of discharge from inpatient to community mental health care. Currently the largest randomized controlled of one-to-one peer support in mental health services internationally, we work people who have lived experience of doing and leading peer support, as well as a range of NHS, academic and voluntary sector partners, to coproduce this groundbreaking project.
Alongside ENRICH we have undertaken an extensive programme of research evaluating different approaches to peer support in mental health services, including the NIHR-funded Peer Worker project exploring how new Peer Worker roles have been introduced into mental health services nationally in the NHS and in the voluntary sector, and Side by Side, an evaluation of the national mental health charity, Mind’s peer support programme. As part of this work we have developed a number of freely available guidance and organizational learning tools to support the development and introduction of peer support into mental health services.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has advocated increasing socially-inclusive practice with mental health service users, as a way of improving mental health outcomes and facilitating recovery. In conjunction with UCL and Bristol, we have developed and validated a measure of social inclusion, Social Inclusion Questionnaire User Experience (SInQUE), and conducted a number of studies exploring barriers and facilitators to social inclusion in individuals with serious mental health problems. The measure is available online for use by community mental health services and new funding has been sought to conduct an implementation study.
Many of our researchers make explicit use of their lived experiences of mental distress and of using mental health services, alongside their research expertise, in developing, doing and leading our research. Together with South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust we support a longstanding service user and survivor research advisory group – the PEER group – and have produced guidance on employing and supporting researchers working from a lived experience perspective. We have a long track record in research that evaluates the processes and impacts of lived experience and coproduction in mental health research.