Research Unit launches to tackle inequalities within mental health services | News and Events

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Research Unit launches to tackle inequalities within mental health services

A Research Unit, dedicated to researching inequalities in mental and physical healthcare, and to improving health outcomes for under-served populations, has been launched by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) during Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week this year.

The Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Research Unit (EDI-RU), launched in May 2022, is funded by GMMH, and led by Professor Dawn Edge, Professor of Mental Health & Inclusivity at GMMH and The University of Manchester (UoM).

The EDI-RU will undertake research to better understand people’s lived experiences to develop learning and interventions that help to eradicate mental and physical health inequalities experienced by people across a range of protected characteristics like age, disability, gender, ethnicity, and religion.

Professor Dawn Edge, Professor of Mental Health & Inclusivity at GMMH and UoM, and lead of the EDI-RU said:

“Research shows that the quality of healthcare that we receive, and overall health outcomes (for example, recovery and relapse rates in psychosis) are linked with factors such as ethnicity, age, gender, disability, how much we earn and where we live.

We know that those living in poverty or in deprived areas are more likely to experience worse health outcomes, and that the picture is even worse for members of minoritised groups and people living with disabilities.

“The Unit will undertake sector-leading research to improve care and outcomes for under-served, marginalised communities; by evaluating the relationship between protected characteristics and health inequalities.

“We will work with people with lived experience, from diverse backgrounds – including staff and community members – to learn from their experiences and co-create new and inclusive treatments and care models that improve access to mental and physical healthcare and effectiveness of interventions for all.

“We will also educate and train mental health and care staff to expand their knowledge and develop their expertise and confidence in working with diversity using anti-discriminatory approaches.

“Our vision is that our work will positively impact on the provision of healthcare across Greater Manchester, the UK and beyond.”

The work of the EDI-RU will build upon several active research projects already run by GMMH and UoM, including:

  • The Culturally-Adapted Family Intervention (CaFI) study, testing the effectiveness of a new type of ‘talking therapy’ developed specifically with people of Sub-Saharan African and Caribbean origin who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or other related psychoses and their families.
  • Clinical Research Network (CRN) funded study, aimed at increasing participation of people from under-represented groups in research by training researcher staff and Community Research Champions.

The EDI-RU will work collaboratively with other Research Units, and the GMMH BAME Network, to ensure expertise is shared and diverse voices are heard.

Frances Fenton, Chair of the BAME Network said:

“This Research Unit is a huge investment on behalf of the Trust, and demonstrates their real commitment to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.

“There is so much knowledge and expertise out there – from our diverse patients and members of the community who have lived experience of using NHS services, to staff who work directly with patients every day, and understand their needs, as well as their own.

“It is so encouraging to see the EDI-RU’s plans to get these groups actively involved in research. It will provide us with an opportunity to shape the care we deliver by those and for those who understand what is needed most, to be more inclusive and effective, and improve staff experiences.”

Investment in the new EDI-RU – which has been hailed as a serious demonstration of the Trust’s commitment to taking inequalities in patient care, developing staff, and serving local communities – was funded in line with the GMMH Equality and Diversity Strategy for 2019-2021. It comes in anticipation of GMMH’s new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy, due to be launched later this year, which will build upon this work.

To find out more about the EDI-RU and how you can take part in EDI research, visit: www.gmmh.nhs.uk/equality-diversity-inclusion-research-unit.

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