Creative media as a vehicle for reduction of suicide risk in men


Outline, including interdisciplinary dimension

Background: Suicide disproportionately affects men, who are less likely to access support through traditional routes.  Increasingly imaginative initiatives are being developed to support vulnerable men at risk of suicide1. One such approach is the use of creative media such as moving image arts2.

Aim: to gather interdisciplinary expertise to examine the theoretical potential for creative media interventions to be modelled, to increase mental health literacy, improve resilience and reduce risk of suicide in men at risk of suicide, in the UK and Canada.

Objective: to develop a feasible, replicable creative media intervention for reducing suicide risk.

Method: The project will follow the UK Medical Research Council guidelines for the development of a complex intervention, addressing the pre-clinical and Phase I stages of the continuum of increasing evidence3.  The PhD candidate will (1) gather existing theoretical evidence from international experts in mental health promotion, suicide prevention, psychological therapies and media studies, as well as systematically reviewing the literature relating to the use of creative media in mental health promotion and suicide prevention (2) predict major confounders and consider strategic design issues (3) address the challenges of robustly evaluating such a complex intervention (3) identify components of a creative media intervention for reducing risk of suicide in men. A key challenge will be identifying an appropriate target population, perhaps defined by risk factors including previous suicide attempt or suicide bereavement.

Outcomes: A theoretically robust and well-designed complex intervention for promoting mental health and reducing risk of suicide through engagement with creative media and the creative process, for vulnerable men at risk.

This proposal is directly inspired by the Man Up Against Suicide Photography exhibition.

Key words/descriptors

creative media, suicide prevention, mental health promotion, resilience

First supervisor

Dr Karen Galway - School of Nursing and Midwifery

Dr Karen Galway, Lecturer in Mental Health at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast has a PhD in Public Health and Epidemiology, built on applied psychology training. Her research interests include evidence based policy and health service development; help seeking and access to mental health services; psycho-oncology and connections between physical, emotional and social health. Karen’s current research has two prominent, interconnected strands; the provision of physical health care services for people with severe and enduring mental health problems; help seeking in suicide and suicide bereavement.  Currently Karen supervises two PhD students examining service provision for physical and mental health comorbidities.

Secondary supervisor from a complementary discipline

Professor Maria Lohan will act as secondary supervisor.  Professor Lohan has strong expertise in knowledge translation and intervention development in relation to men's health. She has successfully led as principal investigator large multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary research bids to the ESRC and National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and has also been appointed to international teams in this field, working in collaboration with Prof. Oliffe, and funded by Movember and the Canadian Institutes of Health research.

She is currently leading an NIHR funded cluster randomised controlled trial of an intervention targeting teenage men in relation to preventing unintended pregnancy 

She has been a Visiting Professor to University of British Columbia, with which this PhD is linked and has ongoing collaborations with this university.

Dr David Grant, Senior Lecturer at the School of Creative Arts acts as a third supervisor. He has extensive experience of community based arts initiatives, including work nationally and internationally in prisons, the health sector and with peace and reconciliation programmes. Dr Grant is currently working on research funded by the ESRC through which a Men's Group associated with the Lighthouse organisation (providing suicide prevention and mental health promotion support) in Belfast will develop a short performance to highlight the importance of mental health issues for them and their peers.

Dr John Oliffe, Professor of Nursing Research will provide external supervison for the candidate.  With considerable international standing in the field of men’s health, having led a number of major multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary teams of researchers in delivering successful studies funded by Canadian Institute for Health Research, Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI), and the Public Health Institute of Canada. He sits of multiple advisory committees in Canada and is an International Advisor for Movember Australia.  Dr Oliffe led the Man Up Against Suicide photography initiative.

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

Dr Galway currently supervises two PhD students working on suicide prevention. She has a strong track record in co-publishing articles in internationally leading academic journals as well as media outlets such as The Conversation.

Intersectoral exposure and/or international mobility

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

The project will benefit from support provided from two supervisors (Prof Maria Lohan and Dr Karen Galway) at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, and one from The School of Creative Arts (Dr David Grant) at Queen's University Belfast along with additional external supervisory input from Dr Oliffe, Professor at the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia, who is founder and lead investigator of UBC’s Men’s Health Research program. The Program involves a diverse group of experts in community outreach, mental health interventions, and counselling psychology.

The candidate would spend a minimum of 6 weeks working alongside the Movember Men’s Depression & Suicide prevention team in UBC in order to gather expertise from the appropriate team members.  The output of this international exchange would include production of a report on the evidence (to include a systematic review) for wide dissemination to key stakeholders in mental health promotion and suicide prevention.

Further intersectoral and collaborative opportunities will be built into the process of developing a Stakeholder Committee as described below, across UK, Canada and Ireland.

Describe briefly the international profile of the partner

Dr John Oliffe is a Professor of Nursing research based at University of British Columbia.  He has considerable international standing in the field of men’s health, having led a number of major multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary teams of researchers in delivering successful studies funded by Canadian Institute for Health Research, Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI), and the Public Health Institute of Canada. He sits on multiple advisory committees in Canada and is an International Advisor for Movember Australia.

Training that will be provided through the research project itself

Comprehensive training will be provided in line with the qualifications and experience of the PhD candidate. It is envisaged that the training will include a short course on Developing Complex Public Health Interventions provided by DECIPHer, the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement, a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence coordinated by the Medical Research Council.

As a member of the Graduate School at QUB, the PhD candidate will also have access to a wide range of technical and organisational research training through the Postgraduate Researcher Development Scheme programme at QUB, endorsed by the Research Council UK.

Examples of additional training in non-research transferable skills

The candidate will benefit from skills development in networking across disciplines and international borders in order to; establish a Stakeholder Committee; organise data collection workshops and focus groups; address practical administrative, organisational and budget management tasks.

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)

Peer reviewed journals: British Journal of Psychiatry, Sociology of Health and Illness, Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Conferences: International Association for Suicide Prevention, Men’s Health World Congress

Workshops: it is anticipated that workshops will be arranged for the dual purpose of publicising the research and the active data collection process in both the UK and Canada.

Expected impact activities

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

The research will benefit from strong user input in the form of an active Stakeholder Committee comprised of individuals and voluntary sector organisations with relevant experience.  They will be approached through our existing networks; such as Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (ML and KG are Directors), Men’s Sheds Ireland (led by CEO John Evoy) and the Movember campaign (via JO). The Stakeholder Committee members, alongside the two universities involved will develop and deliver a thorough dissemination plan for the project anticipated to include an article for The Conversation, an exhibition at the Naughton Gallery (QUB), a mobile exhibition at Men’s Sheds across Ireland, and a presentation to policy makers at the Northern Ireland Assembly (KESS initiative).