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Mental Health Network reveals plans to expand Patient and Public Involvement group

Mental Health Network reveals plans to expand Patient and Public Involvement group

17th June 2024

The Mental Health Network of NHS Research Scotland (NRS) aims to further expand its Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group, helping to shape the direction of future studies through the input of diverse voices

The Network is seeking fresh members to join the group – formed in 2020 – as part of its commitment to encouraging people with lived experience of a mental health condition to help inform future research.

Underlining that commitment, the Network has both a Peer researcher, Suzy Syrett, and an Involvement Worker, Chris White from the Mental Health Foundation, to help support Scottish mental health researchers involve patients, the public and other lived experience roles with its work.

Chris is building links between the research community and the Network’s community-based stakeholders – including people with lived experience of mental health, advocacy groups, mental health organisations, and other community partners with an interest in mental health.

Suzy combines her lived experience and perspective from within a research team with the dual goals of enhancing trial delivery as well as troubleshooting any recruitment and retention issues. In doing so, she aims to optimise the experience of participants in research.

Network Director Dr Donald MacIntyre said: “If you are considering adding your voice to our PPI group then please do get in touch to express your interest. Diversity is extremely important to its success, so we’d like to welcome a broad balance of views and experiences, including people of different genders, ethnic diversities, and socio-economic backgrounds.

“Mental health is one of the major public health challenges in Scotland. Reflecting that prevalence, we want to see everyone represented in relevant research, and health inequalities reduced wherever possible, ensuring that mental health studies can be designed and delivered in more effective, efficient, and collaborative ways.”

Network Manager Catherine Deith said: “The group was first established just before lockdown, but the will to succeed was great and we simply carried on virtually. We continue to offer a hybrid model for meetings.

“It has developed well with Suzy and Chris on board and we’re now excited by the prospect of further growth with public enthusiasm for involvement influencing the direction and delivery of our future aims.

“We believe that patients are more than participants and that their involvement at every stage is crucial to what we are trying to achieve.

“We are therefore looking for any number of new members with lived experience of a mental health condition such as depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, for example. We would also welcome those caring for people with a mental health condition, or those with a genuine interest in mental health research.”

She added: “A welcome event for our new members will take place in Edinburgh in September – with virtual attendance available. We then hope to do some outreach work in other areas before the end of the year, so it’s a great time to get involved.”

The NRS Mental Health Network supports an active mental health research community across Scotland, leading research in areas such as autism, depression, addictions, and psychosis.

The Network is primarily based in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital but has representation right across Scotland.

Chris said: “Scotland has an active mental health community, and we want to make sure that research is the best it can possibly be. Good quality research can only happen with the help of people who have lived experience of mental health in their own lives.

“However you’re involved, you will be supported, and your contributions valued. Good research needs good patient and public involvement.”

Suzy said: “The list of reasons for why people should get involved continues to grow. From optimising how research studies and trials are designed and delivered, and how the results are disseminated in a more accessible manner, to helping make the information sent out to participants more easily understood.

“There’s also the opportunity to aid researchers in better communicating the results and findings of their studies. Furthermore, your own network and connections could help spread research findings to a much wider audience. It all amounts to better and more impactful research.”

If you are interested in joining the PPI group or finding out more, please get in touch via email.

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