The past few months have flown by and summer approaches with a number of staff changes at McPin. We look forward to welcoming back Sarah Hamilton (Research Manager) and Naomi Clewett (Senior Researcher) from maternity leave. We also welcome Ian Bradshaw to the team as our new Policy Manager. This is an exciting new position at McPin which will help us engage across the sector to influence mental health research policy through the appropriate use of research evidence. Do get in touch with Ian directly if you have ideas you would like us to progress linking mental health research and policy agendas.
There are also some goodbyes this month. Huge congratulations to Laura Hemming our Researcher and mental elf blogger who starts a PhD in October 2016. Laura leaves us to go travelling ahead of her relocation to Manchester. Dr Ben Gray who has produced Cochrane Schizophrenia Collaboration lay review summaries for the past 5 years, first for Rethink Mental Illness and since September 2015 at McPin, also leaves us. Ben also worked on the Primrose study. This is research looking at the management of cardiovascular risk among people with long term mental health needs. We look forward to the trial results from that study which are due out in 2017. Finally we also say goodbye to Kirsten Morgan who joined our PPI (patient and public involvement) team to help us cover a staff absence and stayed on. She has been writing a talking point paper for us and supported the setup of research with young people in schools. We wish all three the very best moving onto things anew.
Our news also relates to project work. We have many projects to reflect on so it is hard to choose a few and we have been doing some work on our website to help people keep track of our various activities. Do let us know if you have ideas for how we can improve our website – we are keen to do so!
Something that helps bring our team together are events. We were asked to host a consultation event recently for the London Health Board at the GLA (Greater London Authority). It was a very tight commission timewise but the first Friday in June saw 30 people providing their views on how we can improve the mental health of Londoners. We are always inspired by getting people together talking about mental health. There was a strong sense that the time was right for a city wide conversation on mental health. We had a diverse audience, capturing the view of people from: the LGBT+ community; BAME communities; men, women and non-binary gender identity attendees; employed and unemployed individuals; the young and old.
And it looks like the new London mayor – Sadiq Khan – is listening. He has written two blogs on mental health; firstly reflecting on his manifesto pledge to support mental health services in London, second to support mental health awareness week, themed around relationships, in May. Strong and supportive relationships are important for our mental health, and acknowledgement that loneliness is found across every community in the capital. At the McPin Foundation we are working on a study based in London to tackle loneliness with colleagues at University College London (@ucl_loneliness). We have employed a peer researcher and are supporting a working group of practitioners, experts by experience members and researchers to come up with a 10-week programme for people experiencing problems with depression and anxiety. We can be surrounded by people and feel very alone; combating loneliness in a 24-hour city like London will require innovation and compassion, kindness, time, valuing of community, and more. We hope our work can help – just a little.
As always, if you want to know more about any of our projects, please do get in touch.