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Work with the Institute of Mental Health Sciences

The Institute of Mental Health Sciences will drive a vision where Ulster University will collaborate and consult with organisations, industry, government and civic partners to provide a holistic, multidisciplinary approach to mental health research.

Our research will inform government and help shape policy relating to mental health, we will support and accelerate advances in the sector and invest in skills generation and new course provision.

Public Engagement and Service User Involvement

Meeting the needs of service users and the public is central to the work that we do within IMHS. Public and service user involvement is imperative and it is only through the production of person-centred, people focused research that we can truly create positive change.

We aim to put users’ voices at the centre of our research and give primacy to their lived experience. Service users and the public are an invaluable source of insight and offer many benefits to the researcher and the research process. Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) results in a maximization of benefits and a reduction of harm to all (e.g. reduction in stigmatization), and also improves the reliability and quality of the research outcomes. In keeping with the philosophy of The Health Research Authority we will ensure that “work is co-produced ‘with’ or ‘by’ service users and the public.

The institute aims to fully establish a unit of PPI and public engagement (ENGAGE) to ensure this is at the forefront of our research and dissemination activities. As the new IMHS develops, we will involve a wide range of stakeholders to identify relevant service user and public groups and determine the optimal levels of involvement across the breadth of our research studies.

Research with Impact Regionally, Nationally and Globally

We aim to produce the highest quality research, and a central indicator of the quality of our research will be the degree to which it influences policy, practice, and public discourse on mental illness and well-being. Our engagement events, social media presence, and our dissemination activities will ensure that our research reaches a wide and diverse audience.

We currently hold an annual mental health conference attracting delegates from research and clinical practice environments, and our researchers have hosted conferences on their specialisms, in areas such as trauma and PTSD, and suicide. We plan to expand these activities and facilitate novel ways of disseminating and translating research findings.

As Northern Ireland’s civic university, we are committed to researching the mental health of our own population, and positively impacting upon those who suffer. However, our research also has a strong history of having an impact globally and many of the innovations and practices that we have developed in Northern Ireland are changing lives worldwide.

Multidisciplinarity and Collaboration

None of our researchers work in isolation and our most successful initiatives involve the cross-fertilization of ideas and multidisciplinary working. Our research family includes nurses, psychologists, health scientists, computer scientists, social workers, pharmacists, geneticists, epigeneticists, biomedical scientists, geographers, sports scientists, epidemiologists, and statisticians. We will build upon existing collaborative research to ensure that our approaches are novel and the results can create meaningful change. We also currently work with a range of charities, policy makers and service user groups, as well as statutory and non-statutory providers of services. We are committed to expanding these collaborations to create a vibrant, progressive, and impactful research culture.

Our research institutes and centres

Capacity Building and Training for Research Excellence

The Institute of Mental Health Sciences is committed to developing the capacity of our existing researchers and clinicians in addition to training future generations of excellent mental health specialists. To do so, we will incorporate a Mental Health Sciences Academy into IMHS providing short courses and CPD opportunities that existing mental health professionals can access to refresh and update existing skills in addition to gaining new skills.

The institute will also launch a new multidisciplinary MSc in Mental Health Sciences. This will ensure that new students achieve a breadth of knowledge and skills across disciplines to ensure they are holistic practitioners who are able to implement evidence based practice, and to prepare them to become mental health research leaders. We will also establish a Mental Health Sciences Doctoral Training Hub which will ensure that our PhD researchers who are focusing their research programmes on Mental Health Sciences will receive the best quality mentorship and guidance. Over the next 5 years, we will train a minimum of 4 PhD researchers annually, resulting in a commitment of a minimum of 20 PhD studentships.

Robust research methods are vital, and our expertise spans both qualitative and quantitative methods, all of which are of paramount importance to advancing the field. Research methods and statistics will therefore cut across all of our training provision. We will build on our Research Methods and Statistics Summer School to offer a suite of additional provision with a strong focus on applied research. Our MSc and PhD students will be also receive the highest quality training in the application of research methods and statistics so that they can produce methodologically strong and impactful research.

The Institute of Mental Health Sciences will drive a vision where Ulster University will collaborate and consult with organisations, industry, government and civic partners to provide a holistic, multidisciplinary approach to mental health research. Our research will inform government and help shape policy relating to mental health, we will support and accelerate advances in the sector and invest in skills generation and new course provision.

Get in touch to discuss how we can work together.