New research facility hosts open day

The EMPOWER team are based in the new Glasgow Mental Health Research Facility. Last month NHS Research Scotland (NRS) Mental Health Network and the University of Glasgow jointly hosted a well attended research open day at the new Facility. Here Claire Matrunola tells us more about the day, what the Network does and her role within it.

The purpose of the open day was to firstly introduce our new mental health research facility and secondly to showcase some of the exciting mental health research that is happening in Glasgow. This included presentations of research projects on a wide range of mental health issues across all age groups.

This was a particularly meaningful event for me. As a research assistant for the NRS mental health network I work on a number of the studies being presented, including EMPOWER, and being based at the Glasgow Mental Health Research Facility this was a great opportunity to show off our lovely new premises.

First, let me introduce the NRS Mental Health Network and what we do. Once I’ve done that I’ll explain a bit about my role as a NRS Research Assistant and what sort of things I find myself doing as part of that job.

The NRS Mental Health Network has been supporting high quality clinical research across Scotland since 2009, is funded by the Chief Scientist Office and our primary aim is to increase the quality and quantity of mental health research throughout Scotland. We support a large number of academic and commercial studies in a range of clinical areas. The West of Scotland node has a dedicated team of research assistants and research nurses who work on a range of studies.

Network staff

Some of the team from West of Scotland node of the NRS Mental Health Network

The Glasgow Mental Health Research Facility has brought together staff from NRS Mental Health Network, NHS GG&C, the Glasgow Clinical Research Facility, and the University of Glasgow to build capacity and collaborate on the support of mental health research in the West of Scotland. This non-clinical facility includes a wide range of disciplines including researchers, clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, peer researchers and peer support workers. These facilities enable access to both the University of Glasgow and NHS IT systems.

EMPOWER biscuits

EMPOWER biscuits

As well as being home to the EMPOWER project. We also have a wide selection cakes and biscuits which are lovingly topped up (and sometimes baked) by our various members of staff!

Now for the bit about my role. As a research assistant for the NRS Mental Health Network I work on a wide range of studies. Some of the key aspects of my role are to assist with recruitment to ongoing research studies, speak with participants about the different research projects and make sure that people have the information that they need to make an informed choice about their participation in research, conduct assessments and collect data, drink tea and eat cakes.

I work on the EMPOWER project for 1.5 days per week. I also work on studies involving adolescent depression, individuals who are at risk for developing psychosis, cognitive functions in individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and developing a safety plan with individuals who have had recent suicidal behaviour.

Working across multiple studies has its benefits and its challenges. Working a little bit on different studies rather than fully on one can leave you feeling a little bit stretched at times. On the other hand, I get to work with people from all kinds of backgrounds, occupations, life experiences and ages. I also get to work with individuals who share similar values as myself. This makes the job much more satisfying (along with the cakes).

I have been very lucky that I have had the opportunity to work on studies which value lived experience, EMPOWER being one of them. This is something that I feel passionately about. So, when EMPOWER presented at the open day, along with some of the other great research being done in Glasgow at the moment, and at our lovely new Glasgow Mental Health Research Facility to a room full of very keen and passionate people, it felt like Glasgow was a very exciting place to be for mental health research!