It is evident that people experience structural and systemic inequalities and we know that these inequalities impact public mental health. One of the gaps in the literature that remains, however, is knowledge of how, in their own view and in their own words, people experience inequalities; what experiencing various forms of inequalities means in people’s day-to-day lives in terms of their mental health, how it affects them and their communities, and what their priorities for change are. With such knowledge led and generated by people themselves, we can both uncover new findings and interpret existing data from a new angle.
This project seeks to answer how people experience structural inequalities, how do these impact on mental health and whether this has been affected by COVID-19.
This project will comprise of two stages. In the first stage, participants will be asked to take photographs as part of a ‘photovoice’ approach. This is an opportunity for expression of thoughts and feelings, where participants will be encouraged to explore the themes of structural inequality and their impact on mental health, visually. In the second stage of the research, participants will be invited to an interview to reflect upon 3 or 4 photos from their photovoice collection, with the space and time to talk in depth about experiences of structural inequality and mental health. Interview data will be analysed thematically to develop an understanding of themes and important findings that may inform and improve public mental health. We intend to produce a visual output as well, possibly producing a book of photos and linked analysis from the interview data.
This research project will be led by a team of skilled peer researchers who offer expertise in lived experience; who understand the challenges that people with mental health issues face.
In addition, there will be input from McPin Foundation research team and advisors at Fuse. Thus public involvement is built into the research from study conception, through data collection and write up. The team will choose two locations and work with local “community connectors” to promote this research opportunity, with efforts made to ensure that participation is accessible, inclusive and meaningful for all participants. Both people in the community who support the study and participants will be invited to contribute to decisions over dissemination, and in that way shape and be involved in the process as public contributors as well as research participants.
Because of the way in which this research is being developed and conducted, the project will set an example of how public involvement can influence change. This model we hope will impact the wider population to become inspired and actively involved in creating the changes that will improve lives both as individuals and as communities. We hope it will have an impact on the public’s ability and willingness to act collectively to ensure changes identified are brought to fruition. Changing a culture of feeling ‘powerless’ to one of being ‘empowered’ and help ensure that such practice continues over time.