York St John University
The Bridge
10 February 2009
We'd like to hear from you!

This e-bulletin is our main method for communicating with people interested in the work of the Centre so we hope you find it interesting and informative, please feel free to send any feedback or comments about the work of the Centre to E: RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk 


For further information about the Centre please visit www.yorksj.ac.uk/rcomh or E: RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk


If you know of others who may be interested in our work please forward this to them using the Forward to a friend button below. 

 RCOMH logo


Forward this emai to a friend
Bridging the gap between research and practice


Welcome to the latest edition of the Research Centre for Occupation & Mental Health’s e-bulletin, The Bridge.

Launch in London
On Thursday 29 January, last week, we launched RCOMH nationwide at a special event held at The Royal Society of Medicine in London with key people and partners in attendance. We were delighted that representatives from all of RCOMH’s founding partners, The College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section in Mental Health, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust, Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, developing partners (a service user research organisation) and The Retreat based in York, were able to attend. The event was chaired by Pauline Gacal, Dean of Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, and Professor Dianne Willcocks, Vice Chancellor, officially opened the launch.

In her speech Dr Katrina Bannigan, Director of RCOMH, explained that the Centre is the first research centre of its kind in the world reflecting a shift in approach to research capacity building from working with individuals on a one-to-one basis to facilitating a research network across and between disciplines helping enhance the evidence base for occupation, mental health and well being. She also outlined how this will be achieved by developing strong, strategic, local, national and international partnerships to bring key researchers in the field of occupation and mental health together.


Dr Katrina Bannigan
Director of Research Centre for Occupation & Mental Health

Dr Elizabeth White, Head of Research & Development, College of Occupational Therapists, endorsed the work of RCOMH and described how the Centre had a role to play in achieving both the aims of ‘Recovering Ordinary Lives’, The College of Occupational Therapists strategy for Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Services, and the establishing centres of excellence for occupation focussed research. She set RCOMH some challenges for being benchmarked as a centre of excellence which will no doubt drive us on to achieving these standards.


Dr Elizabeth White
Head of Research & Development
College of Occupational Therapists

Gabrielle Richards, Professional Head of Occupational Therapy, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, shared what it meant for her organisation to be working in partnership with RCOMH. Her talk not only reflected on the great history of the Bethlem and Maudsley hospitals but also looked to the future. She focussed on social inclusion and the need to keep the people we serve at the heart of our work which was a timely reminder that RCOMH’s mission is not just about developing world class research in occupation and mental health but about influencing best practice. This was a strong note on which to end the speechs and it set the tone for the chat over afternoon tea. 


Gabrielle Richards
South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

The launch provided a real opportunity for celebration but it was also about looking to the future. A lot of the chat on the day was about the work that needs to be done to ensure that we are able to bring people together, grow research capacity, and conduct relevant programmes of research. We hope that relationships developed on the day will result in people sharing their expertise, more people getting involved in our research, and an increased awareness of RCOMH’s work generally.


Delegates chatting 

Overall it feels like the launch has established RCOMH as a unique collaboration that will bring people together, who use and work in mental health settings, to develop the evidence base around occupation and mental health to influence best practice. Here’s to the future…

Reflections… on boredom
In the first edition of the British Journal of Occupational Therapy this year Dr Marion Martin, Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton presented an opinion piece about researching boredom from an occupational perspective. Hilary Williams, who is Lead for Boredom Research Programme in RCOMH, has some reflections:

It was with much excitement that I read this opinion piece. The argument that boredom should be considered an important area of research by occupational therapists, but one that has been somewhat neglected until now, affirmed the Research Centre for Occupation in Mental Health’s intention for research into this area.

My own interest into the area of boredom has evolved, over time, through a number of avenues.

  • I am sure I am not alone when I say that, in the past, I have struggled with whether or not addressing a service user’s boredom is ‘within my role’.  For my part, I think so much of this was to do with my lack of conceptual framework around this subject.
  • I  have followed with interest the discussion on inpatient units about violence and boredom and how this can be addressed.  Activity is often seen as the solution, but in my experience this approach can sometimes ‘fall short’ because activity is only part, rather than all, of the solution.
  • I do think that addressing boredom involves important skills and could be key component in the ‘added value’ that an occupational therapist can bring to a multi disciplinary team. 

Occupational Therapists, along with service users and other colleagues, would benefit from reading Dr Martin’s précis of the literature on boredom; she has neatly linked it with literature from the field of occupational science and clearly indicated the role occupation has played to date.  She provides details of her study of boredom, which has developed her thinking around this subject, and proposed that the relationship between boredom and mindfulness warrants further exploration. She encourages us to think about who can contribute to an understanding of the subject and, through research, try to establish ways forward.  She suggests areas for further investigation are:

  • Phenomenological, ethnographic and narrative studies into a range of peoples experience of boredom
  • Trials and other evidence to investigate the approaches that work best for people who experience boredom

The article is engaging; the analysis and suggestions for future work in this area are welcomed. It was so refreshing to read because, unusually, it provides a clear steer for the direction of research into boredom. So I urge you to read the paper and think what we could achieve and the difference we could make in terms of the evidence base for occupation and mental health…

If you would like to read Marion’s article the full reference is:
Martin M (2009) Boredom as an important area of inquiry for occupational therapists British Journal of Occupational Therapists 72 (1) 40-42

Hilary Williams
Lead for Boredom Research Programme (RCOMH)
South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust


Living or working in London?
There are some great research based seminars coming up in London – why not go along and be challenged?

Free Researching in Mental Health: Sociological and Service User/Survivor Perspectives Seminar

The Survivor Researcher Network (hosted by the Mental Health Foundation) and the Sociology of Mental Health Study Group (BSA Medical Sociology Group) are hosting a joint monthly seminar series between January and June 2009. The seminars have been funded by the Sociology for Health and Illness Foundation.

These are a unique series of seminars exploring the role of both sociologists and mental health service users/survivors in mental health research. They are open to everyone with an interest in sociological and service user/survivor perspectives in mental health. All are welcome to attend, although you must register.

Seminars will be held the first Monday of the month, The Conference Centre at the British Library, London, 6:00pm to 7.30pm (March 2nd, April 6th, May 11th and June 1st). Note that May’s seminar is on the second Monday of the month. You will need to register.

A small number of travel bursaries are available to help those on a low income attend. For an application form, please visit the web site below, contact Ruth Sayers on ruthsayers@yahoo.co.uk or, if you don’t have internet access, phone Michelle Rhone at the BSA office on: 0191 383 0839.
For more information: e-mail Lydia Lewis (lydia.lewis@warwick.ac.uk) or visit www.britsoc.co.uk/medsoc/MedSocMentalHealth.htm

Centre for Disability and Social Inclusion (formerly Rehabilitation Resource Centre) seminar

You are invited to attend the seminar: Delivering employment-related support to people with mental health problems, David Booth, Professional Head of Work Psychology for Jobcentre Plus.

The talk will consist of David's team's role in the department; a description of current work programmes, etc around MH and employment;  a description of some recent work on commissioning vocational services for people with a history of mental ill health.

1pm Wednesday, February 11th 2009

Room 11A
School of Community and Health Sciences
City University London
20 Bartholomew Close
West Smithfield
London, EC1A 7QN

Please contact Doria Pilling on 020 8992 4302/0793 999 5357 or email: doria.pilling@googlemail.com if you wish to attend as space is limited.

Have your details changed? Keep us up-to- date

Do we have your correct details?  If anything has changed please click on the following link and complete our online form: www.yorksj.ac.uk/rcomhregistration/