People with mental health needs have a high risk of being picked on or attacked because of their mental health problems or because they are perceived to be ‘different’ or ‘dangerous’.
According to the mental health charity, MIND, they are also up to four times more likely to be victimised by relatives or people they know, said Dr Sarah Carr, Associate Professor of Mental Health Research at Middlesex University and Principal Investigator for the research.
The National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research awarded £142,000 for the study. Its findings will help social workers, police and people involved in mental health and adult safeguarding improve support, prevention and protection.
Dr Carr added: “People with mental health problems often experience abuse and harassment from people they know, the very people supposed to be looking out for them. We want to find out about their experiences and where they go for help.”
“By finding out what people with mental health problems experience, we aim to address a gap in research on adult safeguarding and risk management for people with mental health problems.”
In a novel approach, the ‘user-led’, Keeping Control study involves researchers who have used mental health services themselves. Speaking to peers may help participants who have suffered violence or hostility because of their mental health problems to open up. This has the potential to improve the findings.
Dr Carr said: “People on the receiving end of services have particular expertise and experience that constitutes valuable knowledge for research in mental health and social work.
“A lot of people who use mental health and social care services find their own ways of getting help,” said Dr Carr. “They might not go to police or through conventional service routes, if they are religious for example, they may go to people in their faith community. And in light of The Care Act, which makes ‘safeguarding everybody’s business’, it is important to understand service user experiences, to personalise safeguarding and focus on resilience and prevention.”