Issue 1 – Connecting People Newsletter

An early Christmas present from the Connecting People Team to you…

Here is Issue 1 of the Connecting People Newsletter. This another way in which the Connecting People team will keep people updated on the work we are doing. It is hoped that this will help the team reach out to even more people and promote further interest in our work.

NewsletterPlease let us know what you think of the newsletter. Issue 2 will be produced in Spring 2013. If you have ideas for things you want to see in this get in touch.

Connecting People in the media

Earlier this week, Martin our principle investigator was informed that a short article that he had written recently was now up on the Mental Health Care website. The article gives a concise introduction to the workings of the Connecting People model, as well as touching on the social capital theory that lies behind it.

The Mental Health Care website provides reliable information for the friends and family of people with psychosis – aiming to be a source that avoids some of the inaccurate and stigmatising information that the internet can be riddled with.

You can read and download the article here

Our article has been placed as a download in the ‘recovery’ section, where we feel that it fits perfectly.  We are lucky that it has been one of the top downloads this week from the site.  It is great to see that the families and friends of individuals with psychosis – a group of people that can be so key to the success of the Connecting People Intervention – are clearly interested in what we are doing.

We hope that you will be seeing a lot more about the study across various websites and forms of media.  Indeed, if you have an idea of a website, initiative, or social media platform that you believe we could be taking advantage of to further publicise our work, please do get in touch by contacting us.

 

 

 

 

Maximising Research Impact

Martin, Hannah, and Meredith recently attended a Research Impact workshop, hosted by the Social Services Research Group (SSRG) to address the gap between research, policy and practice that exists in health and social care research.  The SSRG is a non-profit organisation which aims to provide a network and forum for research with members coming from a range of professional groups and organisations committed to advancing knowledge of social and health care services.

The Research Impact workshop focussed not only on the translation of research but also on the localisation of results into relevant contexts.  The day offered an opportunity to discuss some of the barriers to dissemination and implementation of research results such as language, length, and complexity of research reports.  Diversity in social care services was mentioned several times throughout the day as the field is challenged by many different stakeholders and a varied extent to which practice can be evidence-informed.  Solutions were discussed to engage practitioners with new media, research training opportunities for qualifying practitioners, and developing a formal network to connect with independent sector organisations.

Martin joined Chris Rainey (West Sussex CC and SSRG) and Deborah Rutter (SCIE) on a panel at the start of the day, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to network with other professionals in health and social care.   As a team we discussed ways that we can reach a wider audience with the results from the Connecting People Intervention Study.  Some of those include brochures to share our results from the systematic reviews, videos and packages of training materials, and of course continuing to promote the blog for frequent study updates.  We welcome your feedback on useful tools to disseminate our research findings, please feel free to leave comments below!

Technology and the intervention

For today’s blog post, Ian talks about how the work he has done with the Connecting People team has created a sleeker, more engaging set of materials.

“The team have been and continue to be involved with the training of agencies across the country in how to implement the Connecting People model.

To aid this process we have created a PowerPoint presentation to be delivered at these sessions. The presentation incorporates a narration by the Connecting People team and animated sequences which help to communicate the different elements involved in the model. 

We have recently held a meeting with an advisory group which highlighted areas in which this could be improved. The comments of the advisory group were appreciated and the team are currently looking at ways to incorporate these improvements into the presentation. 

You can view a draft version of the model here: Connecting People Presentation V4 Please note that this is only a draft and has yet to be finalised and approved.

In addition to this, as part of the agency training sessions we ask them to create their own version of the model that applies to their organisation. 

Before…

This is done on flip chart paper to encourage constant amending and editing during the course of the training.  After the training, these rough drafts of models are taken and fitted to the powerpoint slide depicting the model, providing each agency with a bespoke version of the intervention that they can really work with. 

These are just a couple of the ways in which we are using IT and technology to work better with the intervention”.

…and after!

The ClearFear Game: Using fun to tackle social anxiety

Connecting with other people is one of the ‘five ways to well-being’. Many people with mental health problems have small social networks and experience difficulties in making positive social connections. This is the main reason why we are exploring in the Connecting People study how health and social care workers can most effectively help people with mental health problems to connect with others.

One of our findings so far is that many people encounter difficulties in making the first step to connect with others because of a fear of social situations, or social anxiety. Of course, many people like me are shy or introverted. I am not ashamed to admit that I prefer solitary pursuits like blogging to parties, but at least I have a choice. If I would like to engage with other people in social situations, I can. I don’t fear being scrutinized by other people. I don’t worry for days about finding the right words to say to people. I don’t actively avoid social situations or suffer panic attacks when I’m in them. But many people do. Many people unreasonably expect others to be evaluating them negatively. Many avoid social situations or find them intolerably stressful. Many people suffer from social anxiety in various degrees of severity.

An American study found that 5% of the general population experience social anxiety disorder (at the severe end of the social anxiety spectrum) at some point in their lives. Although cognitive behavioural therapy can help, over 80% don’t receive any help. For many, it simply goes undetected. For others, the stigma of asking for help prevents them from doing so. However, we believe that it needs to be openly tackled to enable people to make social connections which can help them to get on with their lives. And we aim to do this using fun.

The Connecting People study team are teaming up with Kingston Recovery Initiative Social Enterprise (RISE) and Playmakers Industries to create the ClearFear Game. Last week, the RSA Catalyst fund – which provides small grants to RSA Fellows to develop innovative solutions to solve social problems – announced an award of £2,000 to help us to design and pilot the game.

The ClearFear Game will be a non-virtual game which will immerse people in social interactions which they would be otherwise fearful to engage in. Using the principle of ‘flow’ from positive psychology and gaming theory, the game will use fun as the active mechanism in relieving fearful situations.

The ClearFear Game will be developed by the Connecting People study team, members of Kingston RISE, Playmakers Industries, RSA Fellows and other experts during a ‘game camp’ on 6th-7th March in London. I’m not really sure what this involves, but judging by the YouTube videos, it looks like a lot of fun! We are actively involving people who experience, or have experienced, social anxiety during these two days to ensure that the game will be playable and fit for purpose.

Once it is designed, we will invite colleagues in Kingston RISE to pilot the ClearFear Game with people experiencing social anxiety to see if it helps at all. We will evaluate their progress before recommending it is used more widely. If the findings of the pilot are promising, we will aim to conduct further experimental evaluations of the outcomes of playing the game.

The development of the ClearFear Game and the results of the evaluation will be published online. The game itself will be made available using a Creative Commons licence. I’ll keep you updated on our progress on this blog and on the Connecting People study website. In the meantime, have fun!