COCAPP Knowledge Transfer

Last week I joined the rest of the COCAPP team at an all-day event at City University London, designed to help NHS staff, service users and carers make use of what we found. I was pleased to meet Donna Kemp, who has since written about her experiences of the day. I thought it would be a nice idea to reblog this.


Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to the COCAPP Knowledge Transfer event held at City University London on 21st July 2016. You can read more about this here.

It was great to meet people face to face, beyond Twitter – particularly Alan Simpson (PI) Ben Hannigan, and Michael Coffey who are leading this important NIHR funded research, #COCAPPimpact.

Whats really good about this piece of research is that it is within my area of interest and that the method used aimed to address care planning on 3 levels – macro (national), meso (organisation) and micro (care delivery, face to face). To achieve this they used a mixed methods approach . The fabulousness of this is that it answered the research question on the 3 levels, perhaps anticipating that tackling one level in isolation would give rise to questions in the other levels. Adding to the credibility is…

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Mental health across the life course

NPNR twitter logoThe theme for this year’s Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research conference is Mental health across the life course. We’re convening in Nottingham on September 15th and 16th, and I’m very much looking forward. With help from André Tomlin (of the Mental Elf Service) we’re aiming to organise some pre-conference social media events: watch out for more on this, including via the new @npnrconf Twitter account. We’re also hoping to add some social media to the conference itself, including streaming. Very exciting.

Best of all, of course, is to come along to the conference as a delegate. This is an event which prides itself on its friendliness. Here are the keynote speakers:

  • Luciana Berger MP – Former Shadow Minister (Mental Health)
  • Elaine Hanzak, Inspirational speaker and author on perinatal mental health
  • Professor John Keady – Professor of Older People’s Mental Health Nursing, University of Manchester
  • Professor Steven Pryjmachuk – Professor of Mental Health Nursing Education, University of Manchester
  • Dr Bryn Lloyd-Evans – Lecturer in Mental Health and Social Care/ CORE Programme Manager, University College London


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Research impact

Yesterday’s Health and Care Research Wales conference, held at the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff (more about that later), was all about closing the gaps between research, policy and practice.

There were some excellent keynote speakers. Jenny Kitzinger spoke of her research involving families of people who are minimally conscious, sharing her experiences of working with policymakers to influence at a national level. Jenny argued that impact is helped when research (1) has strong foundations, (2) is collaborative, and (3) is communicated through diverse outputs. ‘Diverse outputs’ means doing a whole lot more than simply writing journal articles (particularly those which end up behind publisher paywalls). For a direct example of how Jenny’s work influences, follow this link for a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology POSTnote which cites a number of her and her collaborators’ publications.

André Tomlin, aka The Mental Elf, drew on his work with the National Elf Service to make the case for getting evidence into practice. This means communicating research findings in ways which are both understandable and accessible to practitioners. This, of course, is exactly what the Mental Elf Service does, using blog posts and other social media to share key research messages.

Steve Jones is a biologist known to many for his efforts to improve the public understanding of science. In his afternoon address he gave a fascinating account of working with government and the BBC. I liked his upbeat take on the past and present strength of UK science, but also noted his examples of scientific advice being flatly ignored or misused.

The day’s final keynote speaker was Malcolm Mason, whose talk emphasised the time it can take to generate research findings which have the potential to change care and treatment. Malcolm is an oncologist, specialising in prostate cancer, and his message for researchers wanting to make a difference is that they must ask questions which are important and not only interesting.

Worth mentioning, too, are yesterday’s workshops. Three were on offer, from which delegates had the chance to participate in two. As I have some experience in public involvement in research I elected to join the ‘impact on practice’ and ‘impact on policy’ options.

I enjoyed the day, and along the way also appreciated the chance to catch up with colleagues. Overwhelmingly, though, I am left thinking that the work of getting research into policy, services and everyday practice is something which needs to be planned for, and resourced. I also think most researchers (myself included) have some learning to do on this front, and perhaps need to develop some new skills and to make some new friends. In the past I’ve come across the Economic and Social Research Council’s impact toolkit, and yesterday was alerted to the existence of a study titled, A systematic review of barriers to, and facilitators of, the use of evidence by policymakers. Worth a read, perhaps.


I’ve now been to the SWALEC stadium five or six times for meetings, conferences and the like. I’ve never been there, though, to watch sport: the stadium being the home of Glamorgan Cricket. Perhaps I should rectify this at some point, as the idea of watching a match which might last days, involve beer (for spectators, if not players) and then end in a draw rather appeals.



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On the evening of Thursday November 10th at Chapter in Cardiff, as part of Cardiff University‘s contribution to this year’s ESRC Festival of Social Science, I’ll be joining friends from the School of Healthcare Sciences, the Whitchurch Hospital Historical Society, the service user community, the National Centre for Mental Health and the world of community arts for an evening reflecting on the changing mental health system. The event is free to members of the public, and further details (and a link for ordering tickets) can be found on our #AfterWhitchurch page.

For a snippet, here’s what we’re planning:

Whitchurch Hospital opened as the Cardiff City Mental Hospital in 1908. The transfer of its last inpatients to new purpose-built facilities in April 2016 provides a backdrop for an event reflecting on the changing shape of mental health care. In conjunction with the Whitchurch Hospital Historical Society and the National Centre for Mental Health, we will invite our public audience to review care as it used to be and care as it is now. We will draw on current Cardiff University mental health services research and use a range of historical and artistic media to maximise participation and provide variety.

Spread the word!

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#NPNR2016 review 

I’m back from my annual trip to the International Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research conference, held this year in Nottingham and once again presented as a collaboration between MHNAUK and the RCN

This, the 22nd NPNR gathering, is the second for which I have served as a member of the conference organising and scientific committee. Our theme – trailed well in advance via our dedicated conference twitter account – was mental health across the lifecourse. We had some super keynote speakers: Elaine Hanzak, who spoke with openness about her recovery from postnatal mental illness; Luciana Berger MP, former Shadow Minister for Mental Health and President of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health, who demonstrated knowledge of, and commitment to, the field; John Keady, who spoke with passion about creative, biographical, approaches to researching the needs and experiences of people with dementia, including in his ongoing Neighbourhoods and Dementia programme; Steven Pryjmachuk, who made the case for nursing leadership in children and young people’s mental health research, and along the way gave a mention to the RiSC study; and Bryn Lloyd-Evans, who summarised the state of play in crisis resolution research, drawing (amongst other things) on the CORE programme. Our plenary sessions were expertly chaired by Wendy Cross and Geoff Dickens, and – as a first – this year’s event also included a partnership with André Tomlin from the Mental Elf Service and Mark Brown and Vanessa Garrity from the WeMHNurses community. This meant we had lots of social media and online discussion throughout the conference, recording of plenary sessions and a live-streamed pre-event round table evening discussion chaired by Alan Simpson. Here is a link to the recording, for those who missed it as it happened:

Once I have a link to the recordings of #NPNR2016’s keynote talks I’ll update this post with these, too. 

A note, too, on the conference’s workshops and concurrent sessions. I enjoyed participating in André Tomlin’s critical appraisal workshop, and with Elaine Hanzak writing a contribution during this to the blog post published on The Mental Elf website here. I also enjoyed our follow-up discussion on using social media, convened by André and Vanessa Garrity. I heard Nicky Lambert give two presentations (no less), and listened to talks from Karen Wright, Paula Libberton, Andrew Grundy and Ashlee Charles. There’s some great work going on out there, let it be said. That includes in COCAPP-A, Plan4Recovery and RiSC, all of which were presented in Nottingham.

As soon as we’re able, the conference organising committee will announce details of both dates and venue for #NPNR2017. Watch this space for an update. 

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Recovery Colleges

Last month I had the opportunity to visit Gellinudd, the soon-to-be-opened recovery centre in Pontardawe run by the Welsh mental health charity Hafal. I was there with my Cardiff colleague Aled Jones, but also with Shu-Jen Chen (a former PhD student of mine: as an aside, follow this link for a copy of her thesis, which is on self awareness and the therapeutic use of self in Taiwanese community mental health nurses), four of her students from the College of Nursing at the Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology and one of our Cardiff mental health nursing students, Alys Jones.

Following this link takes you to the report of our visit published on the Hafal website, complete with photos. The Gellinudd Recovery Centre is opening at the beginning of 2017, and will be Wales’ first recovery college. Recovery colleges are a relatively new arrival within the mental health system; a useful introduction to them is this Centre for Mental Health briefing. The Gellinudd Recovery Centre buildings used to be an NHS hospital, and the whole is located in very pleasant woodland. Right now, Hafal is recruiting for registered nurses (and others) to work there.

Recovery, it has to be said, can mean different things to different people. This is one of the things we found in COCAPP, as we reported in our main findings paper. No shared understanding was revealed amongst people taking part in our interviews. Hafal write about what they believe ‘recovery’ means in their booklet, Recovery: the way ahead for people with severe mental illness. This is referenced in the job descriptions currently on the Hafal website as part of their current Gellinudd recruitment campaign. They place particular emphasis on empowerment, a whole person approach and progress. The term which will be used in the recovery centre to refer to people in residence is ‘guests’, and plans are in place to make the most of the centre’s green environment.

Elsewhere, #NPNR2016 is now only a few weeks away. We meet in Nottingham, and the conference promises to be an excellent one. I’ll aim to post some more about this at a later point.

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Mental health and Europe

I am all for interdependence and collaboration, and take no pleasure in the prospect of the UK casting itself adrift from the European Union. With MSc students I have sometimes discussed global mental health, and policy in this area. This has included talking about work led by the EU. Derived from my teaching, here for information are some of the initiatives member states have taken together.

First is 2005’s Green Paper, Improving the mental health of the population: towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union. Green Papers stimulate discussion, and this one made its case for action with reference to the extent of mental health need across Europe, the cost to economies and the problem of social exclusion.

Next up is the European pact for mental health and wellbeing, which in 2008 presented five priorities against a background of rising rates of mental illness:

  • Prevention of depression and suicide
  • Mental health in youth and education
  • Mental health in workplace settings
  • Mental health of older people
  • Combating stigma and social exclusion

The Joint action mental health and wellbeing from 2013 uses its funds to address these five areas:

  • Depression, suicide and e-health
  • Community-based approaches
  • Mental health at workplaces
  • Mental health and schools
  • Mental health in all policies [which recognises how policy in non-health areas can have an effect on mental health]

The European Union also supports mental health research. Take, for example, the work of the ROAMER consortium which has agreed a series of research priorities. Here they are:

  • Preventing mental disorders, promoting mental health and focusing on young people
  • Focusing on causal mechanisms of mental disorders
  • Setting up international collaborations and networks for mental health research
  • Developing and implementing new and better interventions for mental health and well-being
  • Reducing stigma and empowering service users and carer
  • Research into health and social systems

For a comprehensive list of Horizon 2020 and FP7 projects in the field of mental health, try following this link.

Leaving the EU will greatly diminish opportunities for people in the UK to cooperate with people in Europe to tackle our shared problems, of which mental ill-health and its associated stigma is most definitely one. On the research front, post-EU referendum some in UK universities are already reporting that their collaborations with academics in other EU member states are under threat. Suffice to say I wish the vote on June 23rd had gone the other way.

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