Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Research Unit

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The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Research Unit (EDI-RU) is a collaboration between the University of Manchester and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH). The Research Unit is being established to:

(i) promote and carry out high-quality, inclusive, and innovative research to improve mental health services so that minoritised* groups and people with protected characteristics (e.g. race/ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation) receive the care that they want and need;

(ii) contribute to EDI education and training of mental health staff equipping them with the awareness, knowledge, skills, and confidence to provide responsive care for all regardless of social identity or status;

(iii) facilitate and develop diversity and inclusion for Patient & Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) and co-production in research.

The Unit will take an intersectional, life-course approach to researching inequalities in mental and physical health that captures the complexity connected to people’s wellbeing. This means that we understand inequalities to be shaped by the many social divisions (e.g., race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability) and multiple experiences of disadvantage that work together and influence each other over the course of a person’s life (Hill Collins & Bilge, 2016).

What do we mean by Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)?

Equality: Systemic and historical barriers to equity need to be addressed to achieve equality. Equity means ‘fairness’. For example, people of all social identities having fair access to resources and decision-making which does not discriminate based on identity.

Inclusion: Deliberately creating environments where all people have access to the same opportunities and can achieve their full potential through eliminating discrimination and inequalities.

Diversity: Respecting and valuing all forms of difference/social identities including the 'Protected Characteristics’ outlined in the Equality Act of (2010).

Why is an EDI Research Unit within GMMH important?

There are stark and persistent mental health inequalities regarding:

  • who receives a psychiatric diagnosis and who is exposed to the inequalities that lead to mental health difficulties in the first place;
  • who can access appropriate mental health services such as talking therapies or the pathways to that care (for example through one’s GP versus the Criminal Justice System);
  • who receives care that addresses people’s needs;
  • who delivers that care and
  • who does the research that informs or evaluates that care.

You can see some statistics here: Mental health inequalities: factsheet | Centre for Mental Health 

A crucial step toward eliminating these inequalities and central to the social justice ethos of the EDI Research Unit is meaningful co-production of knowledge with minoritised and marginalised groups; voices of those ‘seldom heard/people seldom seen’. We aim to build EDI and research capability in early career researchers, service users and their families, mental health staff and survivors, and community representatives. Involving people currently under-represented in research and under-served by services will help to embed EDI in practice and processes, building a lasting legacy and from the outset.

Contact: edi-ru@gmmh.nhs.uk

What do we mean by ‘Minoritised’?

We use ‘minoritised’, as it was coined by Yasmin Gunaratnum (2003), to emphasise social processes and power relationships whereby people are actively placed in a ‘minority group’ by a dominant group.

What do we mean by ‘Co-production’?

Co-production is another way of describing ‘Participatory Action Research’ (PAR), which is typically employed for research questions that explore inequalities, extreme injustice, and stigmatization of minoritised groups. In this approach, participation involves those most affected by injustice working in partnership with others to co-produce knowledge about injustice and implement solutions.


  In practice, this means members of relevant communities, such as service users, carers,        practitioners and commissioners, among others, working with researchers to:

  • Transform their concerns/problems into research questions and priorities at the outset by co-designing the research agenda and process.
  • Work collegially as co-researchers in all phases of the research (i.e. study design, data collection, data analysis, sharing findings). Typically, this is an iterative or cyclic process, alternating between action and critical reflection. Then, in later cycles, continuously refining methods, data and analysis based on the understanding developed in earlier cycles (Baum et al., 2006).
  • Co-design/co-create action plans as part of this cycle, which can involve changing current practices, structures, and/or policies.
  • Participate meaningfully throughout all phases of the work, where “participation is more than just taking part” but involves generating activity underpinned by real choice (Cornwall and Jewkes, 1995, p. 1668).
  • Build sustainable networks of support to allow the work to continue and develop further.

  Source: The importance of participatory methods to research and systems change Synergi    Collaborative Centre, 2019: Importance-of-participatory-methods-briefing-paper.pdf

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