What are your main research/involvement interests?
- Otherness is very interesting to me. Questions like: Why do people exclude? Why do people reject? Why do people devalue? Why do people dehumanize? But also, what does being subjected to these things feel like? What is the consequence?
- As an anime/manga fan, I love studying fandoms as well. That’s where I first came to learn about peer research – studying a community I’m a part of. It was extremely moving to learn that there were so many things that I shared with people who -up until the point at which I’d interviewed them- were complete strangers.
Can you tell me about your work with the NIHR School for Public Health Research?
I joined the McPin Foundation as a senior peer researcher in May 2021. The project I was brought in to work on is Work Package 5.5, one of a series of WPs within the SPHR public mental health programme. It employs a photo-voice methodology to explore the link between inequality and mental health. The creative aspect gives people the opportunity to engage and really add a dimension to understanding what matter. So far, I’ve only worked on this project, but it’s been involved a lot, from working on the ethics submission, to recruiting participants, leading interview and basic data analysis training for the peer researcher team, conducting interviews, delivering presentations about peer research.
What impact will/has this research have/had? E.g. societal benefit, enhanced understanding about an issue, changes in public health practice, changes to policy and legislation, improved public involvement, understanding the value of lived experience
We presented on peer research at the Hive Conference, giving people an insight as to how peer research affects the researchers, as well as what our project structure looks like when paired with the photo-voice methodology. We received a positive response. From what was said, although there have been many who’ve spoken about the pros and cons of peer-ness, few have brought up the safeguarding implications for the researchers themselves.
What made you decide to have a career/choose a pathway in public health research?
It was mostly a case of right place, right time. I’d just finished my PhD, which was very all-encompassing, very draining. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about going into research after I’d submitted. Can’t say I ever really gave the future any thought beyond that. Can’t say I considered a public health research as my next step, but I saw the job advertised, loved the idea behind the project, applied on a whim thinking wouldn’t get the opportunity, but The McPin Foundation put their faith in me and here I am, loving it.
What has been the highlight of your research involvement/career?
The positive feedback we’ve had from participants has been the best part. It’s not only reassuring for me as an interviewer, but also, it means that the time and effort we as a team of peer researchers have put in to making the participation process (from first contact all the way through to the end of the interview) comfortable, considerate, and supportive, has paid off. Ultimately, we’re asking people to talk about some difficult topics, to be vulnerable, so when they tell us they enjoyed the experience, or they’d do it again, it’s amazing.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career or involvement in public health research?
Your personal experiences are far more valuable than you realise – even those that you think of as trivial. They can be tethers that connect you to one another. Just as you have them, the people you’re trying to help have them, the people you work with have them. As long as you treat everyone with respect and consideration, you won’t go far wrong.
TagsBehind the ResearchBlogMental HealthPublic HealthPublic Mental Health