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This year the department has expanded its Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) work. This valuable input from our PPI contributors is crucial to the research work we do. It helps our researchers to better understand the perspectives of patients and their families, who may have lived experience of an illness, or simply an interest in a particular research area. PPI also ensures we communicate our research as effectively as possible and that we are better able to target specific audiences.

The CHiMES Collaborative aims to champion a collaborative approach to Patient and Public Involvement and embed voices of lived experience in all levels of the research, aside from solely on a consultation basis. A co-applicant on a recent successful grant application is an expert by experience, and is now formally employed by the university on a part-time basis, in the same way as other members of staff on the team, attending weekly project meetings and academic meetings. This input has been incredibly valuable in ensuring that the lived experience perspective is present in the project. The co-chair of the project advisory board is someone with lived experience of being detained under the Mental Health Act, which helps to ensure the team is held to account in their governance structures and that they are addressing the issues pertinent to those involved in the research project. An independent evaluation is being conducted looking at how the lived experience voice has been embedded in the work. The team hopes to champion this model of foregrounding lived experience in research in future projects.

The UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator commissioned Hopkins Van Mil to produce a rapid online public dialogue on the ethical dimensions of COVID-19. The findings of this public dialogue will inform the future work of the UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator, as well as being valuable to wider policy and research. Participants highlighted the importance of building trust and transparency into government policies and actions, building meaningful public involvement into policy making and the need for further research into how to re-balance societal inequality.

The Ethics for Mental Health Digital Innovations for Young People in Africa (EMDIYA) project, led by Professor Ilina Singh, began last year and has a Young People's Advisory Group (YPAG) made up of 13 members from across five African countries. The YPAG has developed a network of a further 60 young people who provide important intelligence on the ethical questions surrounding digital mental health for young people in Africa, through workshops. A digital campaign for raising awareness of the ethics of digital mental health on the backdrop of the increase in digital health applications since the COVID-19 pandemic launched in December 2021.

EMDIYA young people

Image by Dr Fortunate Machingura @CeSHHAR.

Professor Mina Fazel and her team in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have been supported by the NIHR Thames Valley Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) to find better ways to disseminate the findings of their work directly to young people. They have a small team of school leavers helping them develop a stronger presence on social media to better share their research findings. They are using Instagram and TikTok. The young advisors have helped create new and attractive content about mental health problems, integrated care, how to improve sleep difficulties and addressing anxieties around the COVID-19 vaccination.

TikTok influencer post about the research has 37,000 views.