A new centre of excellence launched by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Nottingham last December is enjoying a period of rapid growth, and championing the emerging idea that better integration leads to better impacts.
The Centre for Social Futures (SoFu) has already spawned ten active research groups to increase and promote dynamic relationships, information sharing, and develop integrated projects across communities.
Under the Directorship of Professor Paul Crawford, SoFu is seeking to transform how mental health service users, carers and professionals work together in a new community of understanding. Rooted in the fundamental importance of mutual recovery, each of the ten SoFu integrated research groups are made up of academics, service users and healthcare staff. They are actively building networks around ten key areas of mental health:
Professor Crawford said: "The SoFu Centre will address important issues about how we approach the care, treatment and support of people experiencing mental health difficulties.
"Everyone connected to SoFu strongly believes that 'integrated impact' will be central to the continued success of mental health research in the UK. Integrated impact means that impact mustn't just be about the way mental health practice has changed. For real impact to be achieved, we must also incorporate, or integrate, how mental health practices and public ideas inform and shape the Institute of Mental Health and its work."
The work of SoFu benefits from a core membership who have held over £13m in research grants relevant to this theme, not least a recent £1.5m Arts and Humanities Research Council grant called Creative Practices, Mutual Recovery, a highly collaborative programme examining how creative practice in the arts and humanities can promote and support 'mutual recovery' in terms of mental health and well-being.
SoFu Launch: From left - Graham Allen MP, Paul Crawford, Nick Manning (IMH Director), Nick Palmer (Broxtowe Labour Party) and Mike Cooke (Chief Executive, Nottinghamshire Healthcare)