Mutual Support for Mental Health-Research (MS4MH-R)

Patient and public involvement and engagement in self-harm and suicide prevention.


Mutual Support for Mental Health-Research (MS4MH-R) is a group of people who have experience of self-harm, suicidality, or mental illness as either patients or carers.

The group uses their wealth of perspectives, insights and experience to help researchers at the University of Manchester in the design, delivery, and sharing of mental health research. The group act as ‘critical friends’ ensuring the research is relevant, focused and has a positive impact.

The group works with researchers from the National Institute of Health Research Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR GM PSTRC) and the Centre for Mental Health and Safety.


Involving patient and carer partners in research

Patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) in mental health research is an active partnership between patients, carers, and researchers. The aim of our PPIE is to research areas of importance: asking the right questions to the right people and shaping our research for better outcomes for mental health service users.

Our contributors assist throughout the research cycle, from funding applications and the design of research, through to interpretation of results and dissemination.

Involvement might include contributors at any of the following stages:

  • identifying areas for research
  • reviewing literature
  • helping to determine research questions, aims and hypotheses
  • study design and methodology
  • participant or data sample
  • collecting data
  • processing, coding, analysing and interpreting data
  • reporting research
  • dissemination or sharing of results

The group contributes to meetings and individual project tasks. Meetings may be online or in person and contributors are encouraged to connect in the best way for them.


At the core of our work is a focus on wellbeing. We work to a set of ground rules and have a co-designed wellbeing plan (available in the resource section). We encourage every contributor to complete the wellbeing plan.

We focus on building relationships and creating a safe space for all people to contribute. We have regular wellbeing check-ins and debriefs during and following tasks. We acknowledge that all people have their own unique experiences and invite contributors to share what they feel comfortable with and, importantly, only when they feel comfortable. Please see the toolkit available in the resource section for more information.


“All work puts the contributors first. Because of this, the researchers have built up trust, so that the many avenues of research can produce well-founded studies through the plethora of knowledge and experiences our contributors have shared.”

Jonathan / Public contributor

Engaging the public with research

Together with researchers, members of MS4MH-R support how our research and PPIE strategy is communicated to the public.

MS4MH-R members have spoken about their involvement and provided advice and insights for those looking to engage marginalised people in research at the Greater Manchester PSTRC annual symposium on patient safety, mental health and COVID-19.

Members have also co-produced two art and photography engagement exhibitions for World Suicide Prevention Day:

From the World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 photo exhibit: Hope during the COVID-19 pandemic: perspectives from people with personal experience of self-harm, suicide and mental health.



Blogs and awards

Members of MS4MH-R and researchers co-write blog posts about mental health that bring lived experience and scientific expertise together.

These include:


  • Selected for recognition in the NIHR CRN Greater Manchester Evening of Excellence awards for Inspiring Inclusive Involvement (2021).
  • Highly commended in the Outstanding contribution to Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement category of the Making a Difference Awards at The University of Manchester (2019).
  • Nominated in the NIHR Greater Manchester Clinical Research Awards for Best Practice Engagement Contribution.

Projects and publications

MS4MH-R has been involved in the following research projects and publications.



  • ‘Relieved to be seen’ – patient and carer experiences of psychosocial assessment in the emergency department following self-harm: qualitative analysis of 102 free-text survey responses
    Quinlivan, L, et al, BMJ Open, 2021

View publication

  • ‘Wasn’t offered one, too poorly to ask for one’ – Reasons why some patients do not receive a psychosocial assessment following self-harm: Qualitative patient and carer survey
    Quinlivan, L, et al, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2021.

View publication

Related projects and centres

MS4MH-R members work with different researchers throughout the Greater Manchester PSTRC and the Centre for Mental Health and Safety.

Resources for researchers

Working with people with lived experience of mental health, suicide and self-harm and their carers brings additional insights and considerations for PPIE.

Through our experience of mental health PPIE, we have co-developed a toolkit providing free resources for researchers for carrying out PPIE in sensitive research areas.

We ask that you acknowledge the MS4MH-R PPIE group should you choose to use any of the resources.

  • Patient and public involvement in self-harm prevention research (toolkit)
  • Working together/terms of reference
  • Public contributor wellbeing plan (Word, 163KB)
  • Planning PPIE for researchers
  • Media guidelines
  • Introduction to qualitative methods and reflexivity for public contributors

Help in a crisis

MS4MH-R is set up to provide a lived experience perspective in research. We do not provide treatment, advice or mental health care for those experiencing crisis.

If you are in crisis or feeling suicidal, we urge you to seek help from your GP or local hospital emergency department, through a telephone helpline service, or by discussing your problems with a friend or colleague.


Information and support services


Emotional support, open to anyone. If you need a response immediately, it is best to call Samaritans on the phone. This number is FREE to call.

Tel: 116 123 (UK), available 24 hours a day, every day of the year

Visit Samaritans website


SANEline is a national out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers.

Tel: 0300 304 7000, available 4.30pm-10.30pm, every day of the year.

Visit SANEline website

Rethink Advice and Information Service

The Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service offers practical help on issues such as the Mental Health Act, community care, welfare benefits, debt and carers rights.

It also offers general help on living with mental illness, medication and care.

Tel: 0300 5000 927, available 9:30am-4pm, Monday to Friday

Visit Rethink website


HOPELINEUK is a specialist telephone service staffed by trained professionals.

It gives non-judgemental support, practical advice and information to children, teenagers and young people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling, and to anyone who is concerned about a young person.

Tel: 0800 068 41 41, available 10am-10pm weekdays, 2pm-10pm weekends and bank holidays
Text: 07786209697

Visit HOPELINEUK website

NHS 111

Tel: 111, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

Visit NHS 111 website

Hub of Hope

The Hub of Hope is a first of its kind national mental health database.

It brings together large and small organisations and charities that offer mental health advice and support across the country.

The Hub of Hope is available via the internet or as an app via the Apple or Google Play store.

Visit Hub of Hope website


Shout is a 24-hour text message support service.

Text: 85258

Visit Shout website

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

Tel: 0800 58 58 58 (5pm-midnight, 365 days a year)

Visit CALM website

Contact us

If you would like to find out more about patient and public involvement and engagement, or you would like to join the group, please contact either Leah or Louise. We’ll be happy to chat on the phone, by email or in person.

If you do wish to join any of the group’s in-person meetings, we can arrange to meet you shortly beforehand and bring you to the meeting room.

Dr Leah Quinlivan (Research Fellow)




Dr Louise Gorman (Research Associate)