Debbie Butler – An Introduction

When I asked if I could produce this piece I was quite excited as I enjoy writing, although my University tutors may not think so. I am always saying one day I will write a book so let’s hope this will put me further on in the journey towards my goal. I could bore you with the minor details about the fact that I have just become a grandma, which is far from boring and I am looking forward to being able to book another holiday this year. I love to go cruising.

I am in a privileged position to oversee what happens in the Patient and Public Involvement world around the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. This does keep me busy and will often see me catching up on work on the many bus and train journeys I do each month.  When I can work out how to use the wi-fi.

For my first post I thought I would give you an overview of how I got involved and the difference it has made to me.  I am not new to research: I studied at college doing a Business Studies Diploma in the 1980s, and was enthused by the concept and techniques of research but applied them in different fields, including marketing.

I became involved with the Mental Health Research Network when I went along to a meeting organised by the East Midlands and South Yorkshire regional office, held to encourage people with experience of mental health problems to get involved in its work. I have a diagnosis of personality disorder, and was working at that time for the Nottinghamshire Personality Disorder and Development Network, a community service run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

When I left the Network, I started working on a freelance basis for the hub, organising regular conferences that brought together people with experience of mental health problems, student mental health professionals and researchers.

In June 2010, I was successful in an application for a part-time post at the hub: and now work as a ‘Clinical Studies Assistant’ where my remit is to engage and encourage people with personal experience of mental health problems who live in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire area to get involved with both the work of the hub and Service Users in Research, and to introduce them to research teams who want expert input and advice. Researchers in the area are very keen to get people involved with their studies,’ what tends to happen is that they approach me first of all, and then I approach individuals who have the relevant experience.’

The structures and terminologies used in mental health research are many and varied and can be quite scary. In my future postings I hope to look at some of these and give you my thoughts on them. Time has been good to me and I have attended many meetings and training events to learn the language. It’s like living in another world. But don’t be put off by that Mental Health is a very exciting area of research and if I can just get one more person involved I shall be happy.

Take care till next time.

Debbie Butler
Patient and Public Involvement Coordinator
NHIR Mental Health Research Network
Mental Health Research Network
East Midlands Hub

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