Our vision and beliefs

Our vision is for a transformed mental health system in which research and services are shaped by the lived experience of people affected by mental health problems.

Our mission

To champion experts by experience in research, so that people’s mental health is improved in communities everywhere

Our vision

A world where the value of expertise based upon experience is recognised and is at the heart of all stages of mental health research

Our core values

1.We passionately believe involving people directly affected by mental health problems improves research

2.We are driven to produce work of the highest quality

3.We are inclusive and listen to all opinions and perspectives

4.We collaborate with others to deliver our mission

5.We care about the wellbeing of everyone connected with us

Our beliefs

Our vision is based on the following beliefs:

  • An effective mental health system should be user-focused, based on knowledge and science that intrinsically includes the voices and expertise of people affected by mental health problems.
  • All mental health research across the entire bio-psycho-social spectrum can benefit from the involvement of lived experience in the research team. Whether using MRI scanning to understand brain structures or complex interventions assessing effectiveness and cost effectiveness of treatments or narrative research exploring experiences of wards, crisis houses and home treatment teams, the inclusion of lived experience expertise can improve the quality and impact of the study.
  • The best quality research and services will emerge from combining high quality research expertise with insight developed through first-hand experience of the subject being researched.
  • Involving people with mental health problems and their families in research can:
    • ensure that research addresses relevant questions, those that have the greatest impact on people’s lives;
    • help researchers engage positively and ethically with participants;
    • challenge researchers’ assumptions in their study design and data interpretation;
    • make study findings accessible and engaging for a wider variety of audiences.
  • Despite the fact that mental ill-health affects 1 in 4 people in the UK, at a cost of £70billion per year according to the OCED in terms of lost income through work alone1, investment in mental health research remains shockingly low.  There is an urgent need for greater investment in high quality mental health research, working collaboratively with those people with the highest stake in it: people with mental health problems and those close to them.
  • Mental health research must mean more than the search for a cure or new medications.  Research explores, reviews, examines and assesses information to improve our understanding of prevention, management and treatment.  It can provide the evidence desperately needed to improve the lives of people affected by mental health problems – and the efficiency of services designed to support them – by:
    • providing information and feedback to shape new services and improve existing ones, from first contact to successful, onward transition;
    • helping to understand the way our lives and lifestyles impact on our mental health, and the impact of mental health problems on the rest of our lives ;
    • helping people affected by mental health problems to learn from the experiences of others, and to use these to manage their own mental health;
    • improving wider practice in prevention, and in promotion of mental well being.
  • Patient and Public Involvement (often called PPI) is emerging as a central requirement in research studies.  There is now a general recognition that mental health research has more relevance, more insight, and more impact when it is guided and informed by lived experience. Effective PPI requires people who are the focus of studies to be influential partners in the research process. The McPin Foundation aims to support effective PPI by providing a range of services.
  • Alongside universities and other organisations such as INVOLVE, the voluntary sector has a role in mental health research and can make a difference.

We will work in partnership with any organisation that has similar goals to our own. We will carefully review any potential partnership to assess conflicts of interest and mission compatibility. Our main expertise is in mental health services research with an emphasis on the social; most of our staff have psychology or social science backgrounds. We work collaboratively with experts in other research areas and believe it is very important that scientists from all disciplines work collaboratively to progress our understanding of mental health problems and prevention strategies.     

A word about language

A collaborative approach must start with a shared, constructive language.  Mental health has historically been associated with many degrading and devaluing labels.  However, there is little consensus about what terms should be used and, of course, context is key.

When talking about people with a mental health diagnosis or undiagnosed mental ill-health, we use terms like ‘people with lived experience’, ‘people with mental health problems’ and ‘people affected by mental illness’ to emphasise that the individual comes first, and the diagnosis comes second.  We rarely talk about ‘patients’ – a term which is historically disempowering.

When research focuses on mental health service use, terms like ‘service users’, ‘clients’, ‘survivors’, and ‘consumers of mental health care’ are used.

We know that people have their own preferences when it comes to these terms.  Our position is that everyone affected by mental health problems has an important voice in finding solutions to improve our mental wellbeing – and that we should all work to make sure that language is not inaccurate, disrespectful or disempowering.

We have published a guide to the language we use to describe our ways of working and methods.


OECD 2014: Mental health and work: assessment and recommendations.