Respect Us: We all have qualities

CTDU's report on its participatory action research project


The Group
A group of seven members of Community Training and Development Unit (Forth Valley) who had experience of mental health services wanted to use action research to explore the experiences of others.

CTDU works with representatives of both geographical communities and communities of interest, putting together educational and training opportunities to increase knowledge, confidence and skills for community involvement.  CTDU provides education and training for participants, learning that connects with people's lives.  It offers enjoyable and creative activities using a range of creative media and cultural activity as an alternative means of getting voices heard, expressed local views and generate energy.

What were they trying to achieve?
The group wanted to increase awareness of the needs of people with mental health problems among policymakers; and to improve, and building working relationships with local services.

The aspects they were interested in were post-discharge support, information and referrral to other services, and preventing acute crisis episodes.  At the time the group was planning its research, mental health services in the area were reorganised and a new Intensive Home Treatment Team was being piloted, and the researchers decided to focus on users' experience of this.

How did they go about it?
The group spent a day at the Community Drama department at Queen Margaret University and created a drama piece.  The main character was being discharged from hospital and returning home, under the care of the IHTT.  They delivered the workshop at five mental health support projects around Forth Valley, reaching 55 individuals.  Following each performance, group members facilitated and recorded discussions with the audience.

What did they learn?
People who responded to the research gave a range of views about their experience of the IHTT, the need for local services, what people needed from professionals, and what they found helpful from services.  The research report includes 12 recommendations for the team specifically and 15 for mental health professionals and services in the area.  The research also found out what people do to help themselves.  Key themes that emerged from the workshops were:

  • The need for improved communication between professionals, and between professionals and clients e.g. reading their notes
  • The need for information e.g. about what to expect from services, professional roles, local resources and mental health generally
  • To be actively involved in discharge and care plans
  • Discharge to be a process rather than an event e.g. making preparatory trips home
  • The desire to have a purpose and to be actively involved in projects e.g. the Clubhouse model
  • A desire to use our experience to help others e.g. befriending
  • A need for respect for ourselves and appreciation of our individual life situations

What difference did it make?
The project made a huge difference to the participants.  They became more confident since doing the research.  Three have now gone on to do an access course at Stirling University.  In terms of difference to services, this is being monitored.

Contact
Community Training and Development Unit (Forth Valley)
Bothkennar Centre for Citizen Education
Haughs of Airth
Falkirk
FK2 8PP
Tel:  01324 832 040
Email: fiona@ctdu.org.uk
Web: http://www.ctdu.org.uk/