Past project


Evaluating the impact of budget personalisation for people with a severe mental illness

Project overview

The PEOPLE Study aimed to:

  • Develop an understanding of how personalisation is shaping the lives of people with severe mental illness (SMI)
  • Understand the role of carers and family members in assisting people with SMI to negotiate challenges and opportunities offered by personalisation
  • Understand how organisations and care staff are adapting to support people with SMI, within personalised models of health and social care.

It was guided by a Lived Experience Advisory Panel of people with lived experience of mental health issues and an interest in personalisation. This helped us to put together our data collection tools, recruit people to the study, gather local intelligence and analyse our data.

The study was funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by Rethink Mental Illness and McPin in partnership with the University of Birmingham and King’s College London.

Project details

Personal budgets are being rolled out across the country with various degrees of success. The People Study focused on the impact of personalisation for people with a severe mental illness (SMI) – a group which has received less attention than others in the implementation and evaluation of personal budgets and personalised care.

People using mental health services can benefit from greater choice and control over the support they receive from local authorities. Personalisation allows care co-ordinators to work with their clients in a person-centred way, and allows the clients to have a lead role in support planning.

We used the findings from our research to develop three practical resources providing guidance to people who might be receiving, or considering receiving, a personal budget, their family members and mental health professionals.

The PEOPLE study was important and timely as it was the first to focus on people with severe mental health problems and the challenges in making sure the positives of personalisation reach them too.

Professor Jill Manthorpe, King’s College London

The project used a longitudinal case study approach based in four local authorities, carried out over two main phases.

In the first phase, we used a combination of observation and interviews with 58 key stakeholders, including representatives from the local authorities, the mental health trusts and third sector organisations.

This phase explored the main challenges and facilitators to implementation of personalisation for severe mental illness.

Phase two was in-depth interviews with three groups:

  1. 54 service users interviewed up to three times over the course of a year to provide a longitudinal perspective. All service user participants had either received, were in the process for receiving, or had been declined personal budgets or Direct Payments.
  2. 20 family members and informal carers about their experiences of supporting someone with severe mental illness who received a Personal Budget
  3. 30 key workers about their experiences of and views on Personal Budgets for their clients

We put together the below resources from the evaluation:

Guides for mental health practitioners

Considering a Personal Budget: A guide to who could benefit from a personal budget and how to make an application

Thinking about outcomes: A guide to support planning for people with severe mental illness

Supporting your client through the process: A guide advising professionals on what support their clients need throughout the process of getting and managing a personal budget

Working with families: A guide highlighting some things for professionals to think about when working with families of individuals considering and/or receiving a personal budget

Reviewing a personal budget: A guide describing how reviews work, their potential benefits and common concerns

Reaching goals and moving on: A guide on reaching the end of a personal budget

Guide for families and carers

Family personal budgets in mental health: A guide through the process of considering, getting, managing and reviewing a personal budget.

Guides for people using mental health services

Is a personal budget right for you? A guide helping people consider whether or not they would benefit from a personal budget

Planning your support: A guide to support planning and deciding what to use the budget for

Checking your progress: A guide on reviewing a personal budget, including why reviews are needed, how they work and how to prepare for them.


For more information on the project, please email [email protected].

Project resources


Personal Budgets - reaching goals and moving on

A guide for professionals who support someone with a severe mental illness who has, or is thinking about applying for, a Personal Budget, on how to reach goals and move on
Finance and mental health | 20th February 2023

Personal Budgets in mental health – a guide for families and carers

This guide is for family and friends who support someone with a severe mental illness who has, or is thinking about applying for, a Personal Budget
Finance and mental health | 20th February 2023

Personal Budgets – checking your progress

This guide talks about how your Personal Budget will be reviewed and how you can keep track of how you use it.
Finance and mental health | 20th February 2023

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