While there has been """"""""a dramatic increase in the attention and resources devoted to partnership or collaborative approaches to public health goals in the US,"""""""" few of these efforts have focused on improving the mental health of communities. In this proposal we are seeking funds to establish the Boston Community Academic Mental Health Partnership (B-GAMHP). This partnership brings together consumers, family members and academic based researchers to develop community based participatory action research in mental health. We have defined our community as adults struggling with severe and persistent mental disorders (SPMI) and children struggling with severe emotional disturbance (SED) in Boston. This is an area of critical importance for while there are many academic mental health researchers in Boston, few avenues exist for consumers and family members to be a significant part of the research process. Our long term goal is to create a mechanism through which community members can inform and participate in all aspects of the research process; from question generation, to the design and conduct of research studies, the interpretation of results, and dissemination.
The specific aims of this proposal are: 1) to develop the B-CAMHP; 2) to conduct a pilot study of consumer perspectives of psychiatric emergency care; and 3) to identify and develop future research proposals and sustainability efforts for the B-CAMHP. In developing the B-CAMHP we will hold regular meetings of the partners in order to develop a mission statement, operating guidelines, and to articulate shared common long-term goals. We will explore ways to expand the B-CAMHP with additional key community stakeholders. We will hire and train 4-6 consumer research assistants to participate in the B-CAMHP, conduct interviews and data analysis, and work on all aspects of the pilot study. We have chosen to focus the pilot study for this proposal on psychiatric emergency care. We have identified the lack of consumer and community input as an important gap in the research and literature on the use of psychiatric emergency services. Our preliminary study design involves the use of trained consumer interviewers to conduct a series of 30 interviews with users of psychiatric emergency care and their families. This proposal presents a unique opportunity to facilitate the continuation of this important work based on existing collaborations and partnerships and is a critical step in establishing the ongoing partnership between the community of people struggling with severe mental illness and their families, and the academic community in Boston. These efforts are steps towards achieving the change needed to expanding our knowledge to better inform the development a system of care that best meets the needs of consumers, their family members and other stakeholders.