We aim to understand the benefits and issues of co-located services for adults in community settings for improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole local community.
Co-location in health and social services is a term used to refer to distinct services that are delivered in the same physical or virtual space. Previous research of mental health services which are co-located with other services that are part of the health system, such as general practices, suggests that co-location has several potential benefits. For example, making access to services easier, increasing communication between services and saving costs by sharing resources.
However, less is known about how services co-located in community-based locations that do not usually provide health services, such as libraries, faith institutions, community centres, sports centres, foodbanks and community cafes may improve and promote good mental health and wellbeing and prevent mental illness in the whole community. The co-location of such community-based interventions has strong potential to provide support to individuals before they access health care settings for mental illness, and to ensure that mental health inequalities are better addressed, particularly among those disengaged by health services.
Design and methods
There are many factors that will influence how effective co-located services are at improving mental health and wellbeing or preventing mental illness (for instance, target population, geographical area, deprivation). Therefore, the approach we are using will help us identify how, when, why, where and for whom co-location works, and whether it works for all people in all circumstances. Information about services will be gathered from service users, service managers, policy makers, commissioners and funding body personnel using a range of methods, including interviews and workshops.
Members of the public are involved in our research as public partners. They will be involved with selecting, recruiting and interviewing participants. They will also provide advice on how we analyse and share the research findings. They add value to the project by providing a fresh non-academic perspective on the issues being researched.
We will share our findings throughout the research project at conferences, meetings, webinars, networks and through peer-reviewed journals. A summary of the findings will be developed for participants and non-academic audiences. Finally, we will disseminate our findings through the NIHR School of Public Health Research’s (SPHR) PMH virtual stakeholder network which consists of academics, voluntary sector individuals, public health practitioners, members of the public and stakeholders.