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An examination of the Champions Model in promoting Health and Social Care Professionals' inter-agency practice in the context of providing services...

An examination of the Champions Model in promoting Health and Social Care Professionals' inter-agency practice in the context of providing services for families when parents have mental illness


Outline, including interdisciplinary dimension

An examination of the Champions Model in promoting Health and Social Care Professionals' inter agency practice in the context of providing services for families when parents have mental illness.

Parental mental illness (PMI) is a major public health issue internationally (Reupert et al., 2015).  While PMI can negatively impact children’s cognitive, emotional, social, physical and behavioural development (Acri & Hoagwood, 2015), parenthood can also impact parents’ mental health (Nicholson, 2015). Emerging evidence suggests that inter agency practice can support families when parents have mental illness (Siegenthaler et al., 2012). Major developments in health care delivery and policy in Northern Ireland (NI), including integrated health and social care systems (Ham et al., 2013) and Think Family initiatives (including the Champions Model), may promote health and social care professionals’ inter agency practice  (Davidson et al., 2012). However, there is limited understanding of the role of Champions in promoting Health and Social Care professionals'  inter agency practice in the NI context.  This study aims to explore the role of Champions in promoting Health and Social Care Professionals' inter agency practice with families when parents have mental illness.

A sequential explanatory mixed methods approach will be employed.   In Study One, all Champions within the five Health and Social Care Trusts (n = 125) and their line managers (n = 125) will be invited to complete a survey to measure perspectives of the role of Champions in promoting inter agency practice in adult mental health and children's services.   In Study Two, approximately 20 Champions, 20 line managers and 20 parents who have mental illness will be invited to participate in semi-structured interviews.  Interviews will explore significant findings from Study One and generate additional understanding of the Champion's role in promoting health and social care professionals’ inter agency practice.

Key words/descriptors

community mental health services, family focused practice, inter professional practice, inter-agency practice, champions model, mental illness, parents, children, families

First supervisor

Dr Gavin Davidson - School of Nursing and Midwifery

Secondary supervisor from a complementary discipline

Anne Grant

Supervisors’ track record of PhD completions, plus excellence and international standing in the project area

Dr Gavin Davidson is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Programme Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing at the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation, Queen’s University Belfast. He is an experienced mental health researcher and has focused on: the effectiveness of mental health services; the recovery approach; inequalities; trauma; coercion; mental health/mental capacity legislation; and the associations between adverse childhood experiences and mental health. His publications include two books on mental health; a range of articles in social work and mental health journals; and commissioned research reports mainly synthesizing research in these areas. He has been involved in 17 funded research projects, totalling 0.7million, 4 as Principal Investigator. He has supervised eight doctoral students (three completed and five ongoing).

His recent research grants as Principal Investigator include: (i) ‘Supported Decision Marking: Experiences, approaches and preferences’. 2017, funded by the Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL), approx. £70,000, with Berni Kelly and Lorna Montgomery; (ii) ‘Regional Audit of the Think Family Initiative’, 2017, funded by the Health and Social Care Board, approx. £30,000, with Lisa Bunting, John Devaney, Joe Duffy and Anne Grant.

Relevant peer reviewed publications include:

Duffy, J., Davidson, G., & Kavanagh, D. (2016). Applying the recovery approach to the interface between mental health and child protection services. Child Care in Practice, 22(1), 35-49. DOI: 10.1080/13575279.2015.1064358

Davidson, G., Brophy, L., & Campbell, J. (2016). Risk, Recovery and Capacity: Competing or Complementary Approaches to Mental Health Social Work. Australian Social Work, 69(2), 158-168. DOI: 10.1080/0312407X.2015.1126752

Devaney, J., Bunting, L., Davidson, G., Hayes, D., Lazenbatt, A., & Spratt, T. (2014). The Relationship between Cumulative Adversity in Childhood and Adolescent Suicide and Accidental Death. Developing Practice, 38, 17-31.

Davidson, G. (2014). Help Seeking and Support for Young People’s Mental Health. In D. Schubotz, & P. Devine (Eds.), Not So Different: Teenage attitudes across a decade of change in Northern Ireland (pp. 38-57). Lyme Regis: Russell House Publishing.

Davidson, G., Duffy, J., Barry, L., Curry, P., Darragh, E., & Lees, J. (2012). Championing the interface between mental health and child protection: evaluation of a service initiative to improve joint working in Northern Ireland. Child Abuse Review, 21(3), 157-172.

Davidson, G. & Leavey, G. (2010). Promoting mental health in Northern Ireland: addressing division, inequality and stigma. Journal of Public Mental Health, 9(4), 6-15.

Davidson, G., Devaney, J., & Spratt, T. (2010). The impact of adversity in childhood on outcomes in adulthood: research lessons and limitations. Journal of Social Work, 10(4), 369-390. DOI: 10.1177/1468017310378783

Davidson, G., Shannon, C., Mulholland, C., & Campbell, J. (2009). A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Symptoms and Functioning of People with Severe Mental Health Problems. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 10(1), 57-68. DOI: 10.1080/15299730802485169.

Dr Anne Grant (School of Nursing and Midwifery, QUB) is a mental health nurse and has acquired ten years clinical experience in mental health services in Northern Ireland, Ireland, England and Australia. She has also obtained fifteen years’ experience as a lecturer in mental health nursing and as part of this experience acted as programme co-ordinator for eight years (primarily for undergraduate mental health nursing). During this time she also successfully supervised twenty Masters students’ research dissertations. Her research interests are parental mental illness, early interventions for families when parents have mental illness and workforce capacity in relation to family focused practice.  Between 2009 and 2014 she completed a PhD at Monash University in Australia.  Her PhD, which explored Irish psychiatric nurses’ practice with parents who have mental illness, their children and families, was ranked in the top 5% of candidates and at the forefront of international doctorates in the field.  On this basis she has been nominated for the prestigious Mollie Holman award which characterises research excellence.

Since completing her PhD in 2014 she has contribute to the seminal third edition of the Cambridge University Press book, Parental psychiatric disorder: Distressed parents and their families. She has also been elected to represent Europe on a steering committee for an interdisciplinary, international research group ‘The Prato Research Collaborative’ from 2015 - 2017. The aim of this group is to initiate, develop and sustain international research collaborations/partnerships in the area of families where a parent has a mental illness   (across nursing, psychiatry, psychology, social worker and sociology).  As part of this group she is involved in four ongoing projects with other international researchers around workforce initiatives in the field of parental psychopathology.    Since 2014, Dr Grant has also worked closely with the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) in her contribution to the Northern Irish Think Family Initiative.   She is PI for a Health and Social Care Board commissioned study examining health and social care professionals' family focused practice. She is also a member of the International Family Nursing Association and is an active member of the organisations international research collaborative group.  Dr Grant also acts as an associate editor for Advances in mental health and has disseminated her research at 15 conferences (predominantly international, podium presentations). During 2015 she has co-authored four publications in the area as detailed below.

Foster, K., Maybery, D., Reupert, A, Gladstone, B., Grant, A.,Ruud, T., Falkov, A &Kowalenko, N (in press) Family-focused practice in mental health care: an integrative review. Accepted for publication in Child and Youth Services

Grant, A., Goodyear, M., Maybery, D., & Reupert, A (2015) Differences between Irish and Australian psychiatric nurses’ family focused practice in adult mental health services.  Archives of Psychiatric Nursing.doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2015.07.005

Maybery, D; Foster, K., Goodyear, M; Grant, A; Tungpunkom, P., Skokog, B.E & Lees, R. (2015) How can we make the psychiatric workforce more family friendly. In A. Reupert, D. Maybery, J.  Nicholson, M. Seeman & M. Gopfert (Eds), Parental psychiatric disorder. Distressed parents and their families. (pp. 301-311). 3rd Edition.  London: Cambridge University Press.

Nicholson, J; Reupert, A., Grant, A; Lee, R; Maybery, D; Mordoch, E;; Skokog, B.E; Staves, K.A. & Diggins, M (2015) The Policy Context and Change for Families Living with Parental Mental Illness. In A. Reupert, D. Maybery, J. Nicholson, M. Seeman & M. Gopfert (Eds), Parental psychiatric disorder. Distressed parents and their families. (pp. 354 - 365). 3rd Edition. London: Cambridge University Press.

Intersectoral exposure and/or international mobility

(e.g. secondments to/collaboration with partner organizations)

The student will gain exposure to the various voluntary bodies in NI that provide services for parents who have mental illness,  their children and families, including a range of  mental health charities, Barnardos and Action for Children and the  Young Carers Association. The student will also get an opportunity to contribute to the HSCB Think Family Initiative.   The student will also get an opportunity to meet and work with Dr Andrea Reupert and her colleagues in Monash University in Australia and the voluntary agencies in Melbourne that they are affiliated with in the course of their research, including the National Children of Parents with a Mental Illness Initiative (COPMI). Monash University is ranked in the top one percent of world universities and Australia are recognized as a world leader in developments in services for parents who have mental illness, their children and families.

Dr Reupert is currently employed as an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education in Monash University.  She has expressed a willingness to act as associate supervisor and international advisor to the study.  She is a therapist (psychologist), lecturer and researcher. She spent over ten years as a school counsellor in the public education system, in Victoria and Queensland, working with children aged 0-18, and their families, teachers and other associated professionals. She has also worked in general private practice, with various client groups and organizations including prisons, unemployment agencies and welfare departments. Dr Reupert’s specific area of interest is research related to families affected by parental mental illness and developing evidence based interventions for assisting families through adversity.  She has acquired expertise in both qualitative and mixed methods research. She has co-authored over 50 papers in peer reviewed journals related to this area and 15 Book chapters.  She has also edited the third edition of the seminal text Parental Psychiatric Disorder. Distressed Parents and their Families and is the Chief Editor for Advances in Mental Health.  She has also edited a special edition of the Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health (a peer reviewed journal) in the area of parental mental illness, and currently co-edits GEMS (Gathering Evidence that Matters), a bi-monthly online resource sponsored by AICAFMHA, which aims to make research in the area of parental mental illness accessible to those living and working with parental mental illness (see Along with a team of researchers, clinicians and consumers, she has also developed a world first model of care for families where the parent has a dual diagnosis (co-occurring drug/alcohol and mental illness). She was also involved in the first estimation of Australian children living with a parent with a mental illness. She is currently supervising eight PhD students and successfully supervised five PhD students to completion (three of which she acted as primary supervisor). Dr Reupert also contributes to the HSCB Think Family Initiatives as an International advisor.

Major research funding achievement from 2010 onwards: (1) CI (Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) National Initiative.  $145,000, (2) Co-I on successful $1,855,891 (4 years to 2017) Victorian Department of Health (Category 1) Mental Illness Recovery Fund grant- Developing an Australian-first recovery model for parents in Victorian mental health and family services, (3) Co – I on study examining resources for families with parental mental health issues, funded by the Australian Infant Child Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association (AICAFMHA) $72,500.

Describe briefly the international profile of the partner

Monash has achieved an enviable national and international reputation for research and teaching excellence over the last 50 years and is ranked in the top one per cent of world universities. It has five local campuses; two international campuses in Malaysia and South Africa; research and study centres in China, India and Italy; and an alliance with the University of Warwick in the UK, ensuring Monash University’s global impact in research and industry.

Training that will be provided through the research project itself

Training will be provided to assist the student to acquire knowledge and skills in utilizing a mixed methods approach (i.e. modifying and testing an existing instrument for the NI context, preparatory fieldwork to access the sample and skills in conducting semi structured interviews). The student will also gain skills in appreciating and enabling PPI involvement, quantitative data analysis (i.e. SPSS version 23 for descriptive and inferential statistics including ANNOVA and MANOVA) and thematic qualitative data analysis (NVivo 10). The student will also receive training in writing skills and will be advised how to integrate the findings from the quantitative and qualitative phase of the study. The student will also be encouraged to avail of research skills training in Queen’s University to develop a range of research related skills, including effective presentation skills, process of ethical review, project management, systematic review, and how to apply research to policy agendas.

Examples of additional training in non-research transferable skill

The student will acquire a range of interpersonal skills to equip them to engage stakeholders, research participants and to work as an effective team member. The student will also gain IT skills including use of teleconference to promote communication across time zones and countries.  The student will learn additional teamwork skills through working in partnership with his/her supervisors.

Expected dissemination of results: peer-reviewed journals, seminars, workshop and conferences at European/international level

(e.g. public talks, visits to schools, open days, QUB impact showcase)

Results will be disseminated in a wide range of high impact, peer reviewed journals (International, interdisciplinary, discipline specific (i.e. if nursing = International Journal of Mental Health Nursing and subject focused i.e. family journals [Family Process or Journal of Child and Family Studies]). Findings will also be disseminated within the NI context through the Health and Social Care Board and regional journals that are widely used by practitioners (i.e. Child Care in Practice).  Conferences will include both interdisciplinary (i.e. Children of Parents with Mental Illness International Conference and Research Meeting) and discipline focused (i.e. International Family Nursing Association Conference).

Expected impact activities

(e.g. public talks, visits to schools, open days, QUB impact showcase)

Parental Mental Illness is a major public health issue. However, by addressing children's needs and supporting parenting inter agency practice can help prevent intergenerational transmission of mental illness.  As such all stakeholders including voluntary bodies that provide supports for parents and families, mental health workers' managers, professional organizations and governing bodies will be informed about findings through various mechanisms; including direct engagement, verbal presentations, reports and position papers.