We have recently started recruiting participants to a pilot study of the HOP-MHP self-help guide, which stands for 'Honest Open Proud for Mental Health Professionals'.
This is the third stage of the project, following adaptation of the intervention with a group of stakeholders and a small feasibility pilot carried out earlier this year. We anticipate recruitment continuing until early 2018.
HOP-MHP is a guided self-help intervention for mental health professionals who have lived experience of mental health problems. It seeks to support them in reaching decisions around potential disclosure of their lived experience in a way that is personally meaningful, safe, and empowering.
Ultimately the project seeks to tackle the dichotomy of 'us and them' (providers of mental health services vs users of mental health services) and to encourage more open conversations about lived experience and stigma among mental health professionals.
HOP-MHP is a pathfinder project for the Collaborative Learning Network, established as the key output of the British Psychological Society and New Savoy Conference Charter on Psychological Wellbeing and Resilience.
Background to the project
This project follows on from two UK wide surveys we conducted in 2015, in collaboration with the Division of Clinical Psychology and with support from 19 UK Clinical Psychology Doctoral training courses.
In the anonymous surveys of 512 qualified clinical psychologists and 348 trainee clinical psychologists, two thirds said they had personally experienced significant mental health problems, either in the past or at present (Grice, Alcock & Scior, under review; Tay, Alcock & Scior, under review), and many had either not disclosed these experiences to anyone, or expressed concern about possible negative effects of disclosing to colleagues or superiors.
A picture emerged of practitioners who are mostly very empathic with service users in distress and support them through disclosure and help-seeking but themselves are often fearful of “being found out”, of being subject to unsympathetic and discriminatory responses. Accordingly they may go some way to conceal their own distress. Hence more action seems called for to support clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals who are experiencing poor mental health themselves.
In following up these findings, we have developed a guided self-help version of the innovative ‘Honest, Open, Proud’ (HOP) programme, using a community participatory approach throughout.
The HOP-MHP self-help guide
The self-help guide consists of three sessions:
- The first session asks the person to weigh the pros and cons of disclosing, and to examine potentially hurtful self-beliefs using exercises and worksheets.
- The second session helps them consider different contexts and levels of disclosure – from telling a friend or trusted colleague, to giving a talk in a public setting.
- The final session focuses on how to tell one’s story in a way that is personally meaningful and safe. Those who decide not to disclose at this point (either at all or in some contexts) are given space to think about their decision and its implications.
Alongside completing the self-help guide, participants have access to an anonymous web-based peer forum where they can discuss their experiences related to completing the guide and their lived experiences and thoughts around disclosure and being an expert with experience more generally.
The peer forum is a closed forum that is only open to individuals completing the HOP-MHP guide and is designed as a confidential and safe space for peer support and discussion.
HOP was originally designed as a peer led group intervention, but as mental health professionals may be concerned about the potential negative effects of disclosure on their career and professional reputation it has been adapted into a manualised self-help intervention. Therefore, the peer support provided by the forum is considered integral to the intervention.
Information about external sources of support, links to resources, and information about mental health in the workplace are available via our website so that people involved in the study are able to access additional support as and when needed.
We are aware that participating in this study will require individuals to reflect on their current or past difficulties and think about disclosure, which may possibly cause distress.
Accordingly, on our website we detail numerous routes to accessing personal support. In addition, the clinical lead of the project is available to speak with participants on a confidential basis and to help signpost to appropriate support if appropriate.
Evaluation of the HOP-MHP guide
We are currently recruiting participants to a pilot study of the HOP-MHP self-help guide. More information about this study and how to take part can be found on our website:
For general enquiries about the project please email: [email protected]