Research and Evaluation

Dementia Self-Help Project

Survivor Research is involved in providing a process evaluation of a project to set up self-help and peer support groups for people with dementia in extra care homes. Mental Health Foundation is coordinating the formation, facilitation and evaluation of this work in partnership with Housing 21. Jayasree and Michelle are leading on interviews with the facilitator, staff at the care homes and the people participating in the peer support groups as part of the process evaluation. The report of this work is expected to be published in April 2014.

Read more about this work.


Your Experience in Mind

Survivor Research (Jayasree Kalathil, Dorothy Gould and Alison Faulkner) undertook a project to design and pilot a methodology, questions and process to evaluate the experience of using Local Mind Associations based on the views of people who use their services. The project was commissioned by Mind and the focus was to explore "the extent to which local Mind services support and encourage people on a journey towards recovery whilst recognising that recovery continues to be a complex concept." 543 people from 18 local Mind services took part in the study.


Peer Support in Mental Health

There is a renewed acknowledgement of the role of peer support in mental health with new government policies calling for the appointment of peer support workers within mental health services. While this is a welcome move, there is also a danger that the values and ethos of peer support, based as it is in self-determination, reciprocity, empathy and shared experience, might be lost given its professionalisation, especially in the context of decreasing resources within the NHS. Alison Faulkner and Jayasree Kalathil were commissioned by the mental health charity Together to explore the views of mental health service users and peer support services on these new developments, and would need to be focused on in order to preserve the values and ethos of peer support and self-help.The report 'The Freedom to be, the Chance to Dream' was published by Together in 2013.


Black Women, Recovery and Resilience

This project aimed to explore the concept of recovery from the perspectives of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian women using in-depth interviews that focus on positive stories of recovery from mental distress.  Existing research shows that black women face unequal and unfair treatment within mental health services and that their needs are often not met in service provision. The current literature on recovery does not include enough understanding of the experiences of women from these communities. The stories highlight that for recovery to be real and lasting, we need to take on board black women's definitions of distress and how we make sense of it, including social, cultural and familial oppression and experiences of racism, sexism, violence, and cultural confusions. Uniquely, the stories of the researchers themselves, as black women experiencing mental distress, are included the research. The project, developed by Survivor Research and based at the Mental Health Foundation was funded by the National Mental Health Development Unit.


Dancing to Our Own Tunes

This work, commissioned by the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) in collaboration with Catch-a-Fiya, explored what user involvement means for service users/survivors from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds. Research in the field suggests that there is an "under-representation" of service users from BME backgrounds in user involvement initiatives. What have been some of the experiences of BME service users/survivors of “being involved” in mainstream user groups and in policy-driven involvement initiatives? Does involvement constitute positive change in the way in which people from BME communities experience mental health services?

The report, Dancing to Our Own Tunes, was launched on 24th March 2009.  Following the report, a charter and guidelines for partnership working in BME mental health user involvement was produced. A review of the work was undertaken in 2011. Jayasree is currently working with NSUN to take the recommendations forward, including mapping BME user-led work across England. Download the third reprint of the report.


Evaluating the Implementation of the Mental Health Act Amendments

The National Institute of Mental Health in England (NIMHE) and the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP)  - currently reshaped as the National Mental Health Development Unit (NMHDU) - led the implementation of the 2007 amendments to the Mental Health Act (1983). The Mental Health Foundation was commissioned to conduct an evaluation of this work. Survivor Research  undertook the evaluation, collecting feedback from a range of stakeholders including regional and Trust-level implementation team members, frontline staff, service users, carers, CAMHS staff, and social workers.The report was submitted to NMHDU in September 2009.


Personal Health Budgets in Mental Health

This project aims to collect service user and carer views about personal health budgets (PHBs) in mental health. PHB is a new area of policy development. Through this project we hope to find out what people's views are about the usefulness of  PHBs, what support, help and information people will need to makes use of this, and what some of the hopes and anxieties are about PHBs and personalisation in general.

We have completed an online survey and six focus groups around the country, involving around 160 people in total. The report is being prepared and is expected to be published in Spring. The project is commissioned by the NHS Conferedation and is based at the Mental Health Foundation. For more information, contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Mental Health Needs of Irish Women in Birmingham

Michelle Bhalroo worked as one of the community researchers on this project looking at the mental health needs and awareness of Irish women in Birmingham. The report, Éirim Mná, co-written by Catherine Horn, Mary Jones, Michelle Bhalroo and Bernadette McFall, contributes to filling a significant gap in knowledge about Irish women's needs and makes recommendations for providing culturally appropriate services for them.

Download a copy of the report here.

Engaging with Black and Minority Ethnic Communities about the Mental Capacity Act

mental capacity act reportWe know very little about how the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), which received Royal Assent in 2005 and came into full effect on the 1 October 2007, is understood amongst BME communities. What efforts are going on in raising more awareness and supporting communities in engaging with the MCA? This work, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, aimed to describe the extent to which BME communities have been able to engage with the MCA and to identify factors that successfully promote engagement.

The data was collected using one-to-one interviews with representatives of key voluntary sector, community and service user organisations. You can download a free copy of the report here.


Mapping User-Controlled Research in Health and Social Care

INVOLVE, an organisation working to increase user involvement in health, social care and public health research, carried out a survey of user-controlled research projects, in collaboration with Shaping Our Lives, The Centre for Citizen Participation (Brunel University) and the Social Perspectives Network. The aim of the survey was to gather information about all user-controlled research projects since 2002.

Survivor Research’s role was to gather information about user-controlled research from Black and Minority Ethnic communities in mental health. You can read the comments we made here.


Evaluation of the Testimony Project

Mental Health Media’s Testimony Project aimed to increase understanding of and challenge attitudes towards mental health using the testimonies of survivors of mental asylums. The project used a series of exhibitions, with short films, art work, and installations, around the country to promote its messages. The evaluation used an action research methodology that allowed responses from viewers to be incorporated in developing the next stages of the project. Watch the testimonies, films and other elements of the exhibitions at