How did this course come about?
Conversations between Paul (Involvement volunteer) and Lucy (Research Fellow) led to the idea. Paul said:
‘I know how useful digital technology has been for my mental health. I know how increasingly important this will be in the future. But so many of my friends and peers are not part of this digital revolution – YET! I want others to see and experience the digital world and benefit from it. I want power in healthcare to move into the hands and smartphones of service users’
What’s the aim of the course?
Our course aims to increase students’ knowledge and confidence around using digital technology for mental health recovery. We hope it will provide them with information and skills so that they can develop ideas for creating their own digital toolbox that meets their own needs while staying safe online. Topics across the course include: getting online; online mental health information; apps; social media; games. One recurrring theme throughout the course is how new technologies can be seen as tools to help us, so we look at other tools across human history and how these have helped.
How did co-production work in this context?
What did we learn about co-production?
The College require careful documentation about how the co-production works in the development process. This helped us to reflect on what had worked and what could be improved. Key things we learnt include:
- There’s often a tendency for the professionals to take control or the lead – even if staff do the majority of the work between meetings, they need to guard against assuming control or making decisions without the equal input of service users.
- Some service users way of engaging can be different from professionals expectations (e.g. anger, shouting etc) – how should this be managed/tolerated in open meeting settings?
- There can be a temptation to minimise involvement to those who are easiest to involve and those most capable – here’s where the multi-level involvement is important.
How did the course go?
The course was co-delivered by Debbie Butler (Involvement Volunteer), Lucy (Research Fellow), Mike Craven (Senior Research Fellow) and Robyn Devine (College Peer Tutor). Across the six weeks, 8 students took part in the course, with four students attending at least five sessions. They were clearly interested in the topic and the discussions within the group were really engaging and interesting. Students fed back that they enjoyed the course and had learnt new things, but some also felt like they needed more help with actually using the new technologies, like smartphones and tablets computers. Mike said:
'It has been a really great experience to take what we have learnt about the benefits of digital mental health in the first four years of MindTech and work with the Recovery College to share it more widely.'
We are working with the college to see how the course can be improved and adapted after this initial run. After this there is scope for the course to run by other people and organisations. The materials could also be adapted for a staff orientated course and other one-off workshops e.g. NHS Expo.
Spreading the knowledge about the value of digital technology for mental health recovery could keep us busy for years!