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Family Footsteps - A Parent Engagement Project

This is a Wellcome-funded project exploring parent beliefs and concerns around mental health in families. Funding was awarded to Dr Tom McAdams’ team in partnership with Bethlem Gallery (art gallery based at Bethlem Royal Hospital) and Centre for Mental Health (a charity driving change in mental health policy and practice, with extensive experience in public engagement and patient and public involvement). The project is supported by a steering committee of 10 experts from academic, charity, gallery, arts, wellbeing, clinical and community sectors, who meet biannually to discuss plans and progress.


  • Increase public engagement and understanding around family mental health research – focussing on links between parent and child mental health.
  • Create a mental health dialogue between researchers and parents – give parents the opportunity to learn from scientists and to influence the direction of future research (outcomes for the public and researchers).

Target Audience

  • Current and prospective parents with questions about how mental health problems can run in families, and what can be done about it.
  • Underrepresented groups. Existing research often fails to capture diversity of lived experiences within mental health, parenting, and child development across demographic groups. We aim to address this inequality by engaging with people who identify with groups typically underrepresented in our research.

Project Activities

  1. Consultation with 100 fathers and mothers of children (from newborns to teenagers) through a series of workshops in collaboration with artist Amber Roper. Workshops will be designed to open a dialogue with parents, to collect ideas and perspectives for research on the topic of how mental health problems can run in families.
  2. Online survey with 400 fathers and mothers of children (from newborns to teenagers), based on our initial consultation workshops, to help us refine a 10 top questions for scientists, to produce research that is meaningful and valuable for the public, on the topic of how mental health problems can run in families.
  3. Artistic outputs by Amber Roper at Bethlem Gallery, reflecting on parents' conversations and outputs from the workshops.
  4. Disseminating our Top 10 Questions to researchers, clinicians, funders and policy makers, to ensure that parents’ priorities are understood and focussed on in future work designed to better support family mental health and wellbeing.
  5. Myth busting for parents with Centre for Mental Health, sharing available up-to-date research to answer questions raised by parents.

Coming soon to this page!

…Parent Consultation – sign up to workshops

…Parent Survey – take part online

…Artistic Outputs – see the results

…Top 10 Research Priorities – for researchers, clinicans, funders and policy makers

…Myth busting content – we answer parents' questions

This project is funded by Wellcome.