International Women's Day | News and Events

International Women's Day



On 8th March, in celebration of International Women’s Day, we at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust shined the spotlight on female members of staff working in Research; exploring their roles, their successes and their experiences of being a woman in their field.

Our aim was that, together, we celebrate women’s achievements, inspire women to pursue a career in mental health Research, and understand better how we might work together to create a more equal society for all.

If you would like to find out more about Research at GMMH, visit the Research and Innovation Hub on our website.

We also held many individual service/ward events across Greater Manchester.

The reception we received, both in person at our services and wards, and through our online communities, was fantastic. We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported us, and engaged in the conversation.  

Here is just a snapshot of activity that happened across the Trust, and the responses and interactions we received:

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You can find below all the inspirational Research staff profiles we released. 


Dr Melissa Pyle

Assistant Director (Research) at the Psychosis Research Unit

Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Manchester

Chief Investigator of the Let’s Talk trial

Dr Melissa Pyle has worked as part of the team at the Psychosis Research Unit for just over 13 years. Currently, she is the Chief Investigator on a National institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded project, Let’s Talk, looking at a peer support intervention to address the harmful effects of public stigma on people with experience of psychosis.

She was recently appointed as the Assistant Director (Research) at the Unit and is a Senior Honorary Research Fellow at Manchester University. Her role at the Unit has developed over the past 13 years from a Research Assistant, to a Trial Manager of three National Institute of Health Research funded clinical trials, to where she is today.

Her day-to-day role involves management and oversight of research projects, development of applications for new research projects and funding to make them happen, disseminating research including writing publications from her research.


Emma Izon

Full time PhD student in Clinical Psychology

Full time Assistant Research Psychologist

Emma Izon has been working at the Psychosis Research Unit (PRU) since April 2016 and has been involved in various trials, projects and research throughout her time in the NHS. For three years, she worked on a trial looking at combined individual and family intervention for individuals at high-risk of developing psychosis (IFCBT). Over the past year she has been working on a multi-site trial that uses virtual reality therapy to help people (with lived experience of psychosis) with self-reported social anxiety (gameChange).

You can find out more about gameChange here.

Emma is currently in her final year of her PhD at the University of Manchester. Her PhD involves the families and the family environment of individuals at high-risk of developing psychosis. She has had the opportunity to present her research in seminars and conferences in England, America and Holland. She has published papers, led workshops and public engagement events; and continues to promote the findings and implications from her research.


Dr Eleanor Longden

Postdoctoral Service User Research Manager

Chief Investigator of the Talking with Voices trial

Dr Eleanor Longden is the Postdoctoral Service User Research Manager at PRU and the current chair of its Service User Reference Group (SURG). Throughout her career she has drawn on her own experiences of recovery from psychosis to promote more creative, person-centred approaches to complex mental health problems that emphasise the lived experience and expertise of individuals more fully and has an extensive track-record of promoting user-informed perspectives on conceptualising and responding to psychosis. In 2015 she was commended for this work with a Deputy Prime Minister’s Mental Health Hero Award.

Her 2013 TED talk on voice hearing was named by the Guardian newspaper as one of the ‘20 Online Talks That Could Change Your Life’ and in its first year online it was viewed 2.5m times and translated into 33 languages.

Eleanor is the Chief Investigator of Talking with Voices, a new form of therapy for voice whereby a therapist directly interacts with the voice(s) by asking them questions which the voice hearer repeats back out loud.

You can find out more about Talking with Voices here.


Service User Researcher 

Service User Researcher
This inspirational woman in Research decided to keep her identity anonymous. Her role is a Service User Researcher at the Psychosis Research Unit (PRU).  She is a Co-Author on several papers that will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals. She also interviews service users who are participating in research trials to find out about their experiences. She's also a Co-Applicant on National Institute of Health Research funded projects including Let’s Talk.


Heather Peel

Service User Researcher
Heather Peel is a Service User Researcher based at the Psychosis Research Unit and is currently working as a therapist on gameChange, a randomised control trial delivering Virtual Reality therapy to individuals with a psychosis diagnosis. The purpose of the trial is support those with difficulties going outside to feel more confident, calmer and in control.

You can find out more about gameChange here.

Heather recently appeared on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, sharing her experience of psychosis and living with bipolar. She began her recovery journey with GMMH in a volunteer role co-facilitating the ‘Living with Bipolar’ course for the Recovery Academy.

You can listen to the full Women’s Hour session here.


Abigail Brown

Research Associate


Abigail Brown is a Research Associate within GMMH, based within the Mental Health Research Group at the University of Manchester in the Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work. She is currently working as part the NIHR GM ARC Mental Health Theme on a number of projects looking to improve mental health locally with a particular focus on children and young people.

Abi is passionate about public, mental and global health - particularly from a BAME point of view - and she has previously conducted research on maternal mental healthcare in Ghana.


Dr Sarah Fox

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Officer

Dr Sarah Fox gained a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from the University of Manchester, investigating whether changes in brain-wave activity could be used as a tool for diagnosing early, pre-symptomatic, Alzheimer’s disease. During this time she also fell in love with science communication, running a popular science blog and co-chairing the Manchester Branch of the British Science Association.

In 2017 Sarah stepped away from the lab bench following her passion for science communication and becoming facilitator of a large patient/public involvement (PPI) forum. This forum supported Sarah in gaining significant PPI knowledge and, ultimately, lead to her taking the role of Patient and Public involvement and Engagement officer with Greater Manchester Mental Health’s Dementia Research Centre in 2018.

You can find out more about our Dementia studies here.

Sarah’s role within the Trust sees her traveling across Greater Manchester working with NHS staff, patients and the public to raise dementia research awareness and support patients to take part in and to help shape this research.


Nisha Chauhan

Assistant Psychologist

Nisha Chauhan is currently an Assistant Psychologist working on the Talking with Voices trial and the gameChange VR trial in the Psychosis Research Unit (PRU).

You can find out more about both trials here.

Prior to joining PRU, Nisha worked as an Assistant Psychologist in an inpatient mental health unit, where she carried out group therapy on the male and female acute wards, and as a Research Assistant in the Greater Manchester Dementia Research Unit, working on the SENSE-Cog project which looked at hearing and vision impairments in people with Dementia.

Nisha has also worked as a support worker in inpatient services for 3 years, whilst working as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist in a Community Mental Health Team one day a week, and as a support worker in an Autism specialist unit for 1 year. She has held numerous voluntary positions, including support work in a dual diagnosis community service and a Dementia charity

Nisha completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at the University of Huddersfield in 2014, taking a particular interest in psychological difficulties and phenomenology. This led to her completing a Masters by Research at the University of Huddersfield in 2018, titled ‘The lived experiences of services users within a mental health employment service.’


If you would like to find out more about Research at GMMH, visit the Research and Innovation Hub on our website.


An equal world is an enabled world. 

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. 

This year, we are focusing on an area that could all too easily seem to be male dominated: Research.  On 8th March, starting from 10am, each hour until 5pm we will be shining the spotlight on one female member of GMMH staff working in Research. We will explore their role, their successes and their experience of being a woman in their field.  

Our aim is that, through highlighting a very small cross section of the women who work in Research across the Trust, we can celebrate achievements so far, inspire women to pursue a career in mental health Research, and understand better how we might work together to create a more equal society for all.  

Alongside this, many of our individual services and wards across the Trust are marking International Women’s Day in their own way today (6th March), holding events and celebrating their female members of staff and service users. 

Follow us on Facebook (GMMentalHealth), Twitter (@GMMH_NHS) and Instagram (@GMMH_NHS) to keep up to date on all of our International Women’s Day activity! 





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Find resources for carers and service users  Contact the Trust

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