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Let’s Talk

What is this project?

The ‘Let’s Talk’ project aims to give people an opportunity to discuss stigma and disclosure of their mental health with a peer support worker.

The project is designed specifically for people who are experiencing self-stigma related to psychosis. In this instance, self-stigma refers to how negative public beliefs about psychosis may make people who experience psychosis think or feel negatively about themselves.

The peer support worker and peer meet for a series of one-to-one sessions to explore their relationships with stigma and discrimination and potential ways to disclose aspects of their mental health in ways that feel comfortable and empowering.

The sessions are semi structured, guided by a workbook. The project is informed by peer support principles that aim to lessen the  power imbalances in traditional mental health services.

It has been developed from the Honest, Open, Proud programme in the USA led by Prof. Pat Corrigan, the National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment, and Dr. Jon Larson at the University of Illinois, and was designed for groups.

The Let’s Talk project has two phases. The first phase is now complete. It involved adapting the Honest Open Proud programme to suit a UK and one-to-one peer support context.

This involved speaking to peer support workers, service users and staff form the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, which is one of the primary sites where the project will be implemented.

The second phase is a small trial of the one-to-one sessions delivered by PSW’s and is now underway.

Why is this project important?

Mental health stigma is when people face negative attitudes from others due to their experiences of mental health problems. Mental health discrimination is when people are treated differently due to their experience of a mental health problem, such as being excluded from employment.

Stigma and discrimination can act as barriers to recovery from a mental health issues and can also worsen existing issues.

Whilst research suggests that attitudes are improving in relation to some mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, this improvement has not been seen in relation to others, such as psychosis, as highlighted by the recent Time to Change campaign ‘See the Bigger Picture’.  

Negative public beliefs about psychosis may make people who experience psychosis think or feel negatively about themselves. This is called internalised stigma.

How are McPin and people with lived experience of mental health problems involved in the project?

Lived experience of mental health issues runs throughout the project. The Honest, Open, Proud programme and subsequent Let’s Talk adaptations for the UK context have been developed by people who have experienced mental health problems.  

Our senior peer researcher, Raj Hazzard, is helping oversee the study, with a particular focus on providing insight from their own lived experiences of mental distress and previous roles as a peer worker in the NHS.

Raj has supported the development of the intervention for a UK context, including the training of peer support workers and preliminary data analysis.

Many members of the research team also worked from a lived experience perspective, implicitly and explicitly bringing aspects of their mental health to the work.

What did we find?

Analysis of data from our qualitative interviews with people who have experience of psychosis and peer support workers is ongoing. We intend to publish our findings in December 2021.

The feasibility Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) started in early September 2021 and will be ongoing until July 2023.

Where can I find more information?

More information is available at www.psychosisresearch.com or by contacting the Chief Investigator Melissa Pyle at melissa.pyle@gmmh.nhs.uk.

The project is is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).