Category Archives: Publications

ICHMSR example used in new guidance from ‘Involve’

Involve is the organisation, funded by the NIHR, to support public involvement in NHS, Public health and social care research. On 24th November 2014 they launched new ‘Guidance on the use of social media to actively involve people in research’ . The guidance provides examples of ways in which different types of social media are currently being used to involve the public in research, the benefits, challenges, risks and ethics of using social media for involvement, and some top tips and things to think about.

ICMHSR has provided a case study for the guidance document: Using Twitter and a blog to identify and prioritise topics for research. It comes from the experiences of Martin Webber in using his established twitter account and blog to reach as diverse an audience as possible, but especially people with mental health experience – those using mental health services and those working in mental health.

In the case study Martin lists the challenges involved but also the power and impact of using this medium to directly contact people who were engaged in debates about mental health and its services. He sums up the piece by giving advice to other researchers about using social media to actively involve people in research:

“Think clearly about what you want to get out of it. Think about your target audience
and select the social media that this group is most likely to use. Use more than one
form of social media if possible.

“Make the requirements on people as minimal as possible – e.g. only ask one or two

“Be warm and positive and engaging and enthusiastic. Don’t assume that just
because you’ve got a good title or a catchy tweet this will come across to people.”

“People get fed up with you if you are always self-promoting, so pick different things
to tweet about, tell people about interesting articles, resources etc.”

“In the current university landscape there’s a lot of emphasis on knowledge
exchange and on impact. But you need to communicate and share what you’re doing
at the beginning of a project and on an ongoing basis. That engages people so that
when you have the results they are already interested.”

Social work and recovery

Social workers support the recovery of people with mental health problems. Recovery is a process whereby individuals or families restore rights, roles, and responsibilities lost through illness, disability, or other social problems. It requires hope and empowerment, supported by a vision for a different way of being.

Recovery is a concept at the heart of social work practice, though the profession is frequently following others in articulating and evidencing good practice. Yet despite the theoretical basis of recovery finding synergy with social work, there is limited research informing social workers on how best to intervene effectively and to influence the social factors enabling or impeding recovery.

The term ‘recovery’ has now become part of routine mental health service delivery and policy frequently without acknowledging its social origins. Internationally, recovery is being framed as core to community mental health service delivery, but all too frequently with reference to symptom reduction and service rationing rather than regaining control over one’s life.

Social work theory and practice largely adopts a holistic, bio-psycho-social systems approach, which is central to models of social recovery. Practitioners are working daily to support the recovery of the individuals and families they are working with, frequently using highly effective approaches such as strengths or asset-based assessments, self-directed support or enhancing social inclusion. However, ‘recovery’ is rarely taught as a social theory informing social work practice on qualifying programmes, possibly because it is under-theorised and lacking a well-developed evidence base.

Special Issue of the British Journal of Social Work, 2015

ICMHSR Director Dr Martin Webber and ICMHSR international collaborator Associate Professor Lynette Joubert of the University of Melbourne, Australia, are editing a special issue of the British Journal of Social Work on the theme of ‘Social Work and Recovery’.

This special issue will publish internationally relevant contributions to social work research and thinking about recovery across multiple social work fields. Social work researchers and practitioners who are researching and working in the field of recovery are invited to contribute their work to make a distinct social work contribution to the growing evidence base about recovery.

They are seeking abstracts of up to 800 words by 9th May 2014 and full papers will be required by 5th September 2014.

For full details of the aims and key themes of the special issue can be found on the British Journal of Social Work website.