Our approach

We conduct high quality mental health research. We believe this is done best when it involves people with relevant personal experience that relates to the research being carried out. We call this expertise from experience. In our research work we often use an approach known as peer research. This means researchers actively draw on their lived experience of the topic being studied to influence the research. For example, they may explicitly draw on an identity that they believe they share with people taking part, perhaps by telling them something about their own experience, if this is appropriate. This can help build rapport and break down the power differential that traditionally exists between the researcher tasked with gathering information and the participant they are gathering it from. This is just one way that ‘peerness’ can be used in a research context. We believe that using such an approach can result in research that is more relevant, acceptable and ultimately, impactful.

For more insight into peer research, check out these blogs:

Bringing lived experience into research – opportunities and problems

How I use my expertise from experience alongside my research skills

Who is a peer anyway? Reflections of peer research and peer support

Who are the ‘experts by experience’ in mental health research?

Our projects

The sidebars list most of our completed and active projects. When we first started as a research unit, we did a lot of work about wellbeing and connectedness, including Community Health Networks, Wellbeing Networks, an evaluation of the Wheel of Wellbeing and more recently, Community Navigators.

Currently, we have multiple projects that relate to:

Digital and Virtual Reality

Including VR therapy for psychosis; Cognitive Bias Modification for paranoia and IMPART, a digital health intervention for carers

Peer Support

Including the Side by Side, Women Side by Side and Perinatal Peer Support projects that seek to identify the principles that underpin effective peer support in different contexts

Young People

Including our research priority-setting project Right People, Right Questions; the Blueprint and SleepWell studies and the mental health audio tour at the National Gallery that our Young People’s Network helped develop.


Including our Black Thrive Employment Project, Peer Support Employment Groups Evaluation, our Work Well report, Thrive London, and the 100 People report.

We also often carry out evaluations of community mental health interventions. Some recent examples include Mental Health and Money Advice, Open Space and the TOGether Project.