Self and Identity Research: 2011-17 and beyond!

The long title of this project is ‘Influence of mental health difficulties and use of services on people’s sense of self and identity: developing ideas for improving services’.

This has been a collaboration between our Suresearch survivor researchers, academic researchers at University of Birmingham, and practitioners in Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust. The idea for the research emerged from service users, themselves, at workshops organised by the former Mental Health Research Network, Heart of England Hub with Suresearch members amongst the facilitators.

These consultations with service users suggested that issues around identity and sense of the self may be important to many people who are coping with mental health difficulties – and that this should be a priority for research.

In order to follow this up, we have sought  to find out from current users of mental health services

  • how their experience of mental health difficulties, and their involvement with mental health services, may have affected the way they see themselves and how they are seen by other people.
  • what services could do differently that would help service users to rebuild a more positive identity and sense of self-worth.

The intention is to use the ideas generated from this exercise as a basis for devising and piloting specific changes in service delivery, which could then be evaluated within a subsequent larger scale research project.

In the video below, Stephen Jeffreys, one of the research team speaks about the origins of the project:


So far we have conducted four focus groups, completed  preliminary readings  of each typed transcript, and agreed on a coding framework for a full analysis of the information we have collected.

Apart from some initial funding from the Mental Health Research Network, this project has been entirely unfunded, with survivor researchers working on a voluntary basis and  the academic and practitioner researchers finding time  out from their main roles. The project has been on hold  for some time now, and we need to find funding  to revive it.

The video on this page is one of a series  on Participatory Research, produced by the School of Social Policy at University of Birmingham. You can view them all from here.