The Section of Community Mental Health - previously PRiSM - evaluates existing and innovative ways of delivering services for people with mental health problems.
The team continues to produce a plethora of resources for use in the UK and internationally - both conceptual models to better understand, evaluate and develop mental health systems and assessment scales designed to evaluate specific treatments and services.
The Mental Health Matrix, for example, proposes a simple model for community-based services that can help care-providers and planners in different countries diagnose strengths and weakness and increase clinical effectiveness. Choosing Methods in Mental Health Research; Mental Health Research from Theory to Practice, contains appraisals of different mental health research methods and advises on how to choose the most appropriate method - not only to address a specific question, but also to maximise the impact on services. Evidence in Mental Health Care evaluates a range of different research methodologies and types of evidence for mental health services.
Members of the section work in collaboration with the London Health Observatory (www.lho.org.uk) to analyse the use of mental health services in London and advise mental health Trusts on how to benchmark the services they provide. This work has been commissioned by the London Development Centre (www.londondevelopmentcentre.org ), one of the eight Department of Health funded regional development centres that form part of the Care Services Improvement Partnership, working to improve the lives of people who use services and have carers.
Assessment scales developed and tested by Community Mental Health to evaluate the effectiveness of specific mental health interventions include The Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN) (www.iop.kcl.ac.uk/prism/can ). CAN assesses the health and social needs of people with severe mental health problems, and is the most widely used needs assessment measure across the world. Versions have been developed for adults aged over 65 (CANE), for adults with mental health problems and learning disabilities (CANDID), for adults in forensic mental health settings (CANFOR) and for mothers and pregnant women with mental health problems (CAN-M). CAN has been translated into 20 other languages.
The Threshold Assessment Grid (TAG) (www.iop.kcl.ac.uk/prism/tag) is a one page easy-to-use standardised assessment tool that allows GPs and mental health professionals to assess the severity of an individual's mental health problems.
Members of the Community Mental Health team evaluate innovative treatments and interventions, using multi-method studies including randomised controlled trials. This work includes a programme of research into services and treatments for women with mental health problems, looking at ways of improving access to mental health services and evaluating alternative ways of providing in-patient care for people who are severely ill. In addition, Community Mental Health carries out population research, investigating risk factors for different mental health problems and institutional factors that are associated with high rates of suicide in prisons in England and Wales, for example.
The section works to actively combat stigma and discrimination against people with mental problems, both nationally and internationally and, for the past four years, has worked in partnership with the national charity Rethink (www.rethink.org/index.html ) to this end.
Under the umbrella of Mental Health Awareness in Action, a number of collaborative projects have been carried out to build an evidence base that shows better public understanding of mental health issues would improve the quality of life for people with mental health problems. In addition, there are projects to evaluate education and training schemes designed to challenge negative attitudes toward mental health.
The Section of Community Mental Health team is multi-professional and multidisciplinary, and includes staff who have used mental health services. The section is headed by Dr Claire Henderson, Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry and Consultant Psychiatrist for South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
Associated research programmes
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