Launching the McPin Public Involvement in Research Programme by Thomas Kabir

Shaping McPin - whiteboardThe mission statement for the McPin Foundation is to “transform mental health research by putting the lived experience of people affected by mental health problems at the heart of research methods and the research agenda”. We have been thinking hard about how to do this and we have a way forward. I started work in early May as the McPin Public Involvement in Research Manager.

So how do you ‘transform mental health research’?

My first thought was, one step at a time. We are forming a McPin Public Involvement in Research Advisory Group. It will meet for this first time on July 31st. The Group consists of some of the most well-known people in the country, with lived experience of mental illness that have an interest in research . The Group will help us develop and carry out a programme of public involvement work following on from the Peer Researchers day that we held here held in June 2013. We already have some good ideas about the work that needs to be done, informed partly by this session.

We will be looking at ways of connecting groups and people from across the country. Our first step will be to develop a directory of mental health service user and carer researcher groups. We will be launching a small scheme for a year offering a limited number of bursaries to help fund service user and carer involvement in studies at a very early stage. This is important as there is a severe lack of financial support for people trying to arrange service user and carer involvement in studies before an application for funding is made.

We want to develop a series of case studies that will highlight new ways that service users and carers can get involved in research. To start we will focus on areas of mental health research in which public involvement is relatively under supported.

In terms of influencing the research agenda the McPin Foundation is talking to different academic teams and working with other charities to influence how research is carried out, and what gets funded. A good example is our support of the Depression: asking the right questions initiative. The project will bring together service users, carers and researchers to produce a ranked list of unanswered research questions relating to depression. These initiatives typically lead to several substantial pieces of research being funded.

So have we ‘transformed mental health research? Not quite yet, but we are making a start.

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