Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine

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Volunteering in Mental Health Care for People with Psychosis VOLUME

Centre for Psychiatry

Funding Body: National Institute for Health Research
Project Investigator: Stefan Priebe


Research suggests that the majority of the lay public hold stigmatizing attitudes and display discriminatory behaviours towards individuals with severe mental illness. However, there also exist a specific group of individuals whose attitudes and behaviours are distinctly different. Volunteers in mental health care willingly choose to spend their spare time, unpaid, in the company of patients with severe mental illness. Volunteers providing one-to-one care are typically part of ’befriending’ schemes which aim to foster social relationships between volunteers and patients [1].

Given how wide-spread these schemes are, it is surprising how little research has been done on the most effective ways to train, recruit and support volunteers, and into what types of activities are most beneficial to patients.

Our research project will target the missing gaps in research and has a number of different aims. We aim to identify current mental health volunteering schemes, conduct case studies to identify best practice in the recruitment, selection and management of volunteers, and to interview volunteers and patients who currently provide or receive one-to-one volunteer input in befriending schemes.

Activities & Outputs

Part of our research project will involve designing a volunteering scheme that reflects best practice for one-to-one volunteer input and to explore this scheme in patients with severe mental illness. Overall, the programme will facilitate and strengthen volunteering schemes in mental health Trusts across England, particularly those targeted to help individuals with psychosis.

This project is funded as a 4 year Programme Grant for Applied Research by the National Institute for Health Research (Ref: RP-PG-0611-20002).

For more information please contact Joyce Siette This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Professor Stefan Priebe This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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