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Community Engagement for Mental Health Research Group (CE4ME)

Community Engagement forMental Health Research Group (CE4ME)

Chair:   Dr Evi Chryssafidou

Members: Dr Peter Pearce

Jane Reese

Helen-Jane Ridgeway

Dr Biljana van Rijn

Dr Joel Vos

Claire Williamson



Psychotherapists and counsellors have traditionally focused on helping individuals with their mental health concerns within the settings of mental health services, such as community clinics, psychiatric wards and hospitals. However, in the last decades, and against the backdrop of humanitarian crisis, virus pandemic, and large treatment gap for psychological distress and mental disorders, professionals and volunteers, such as teachers, community support staff, and youth workers are increasingly expected to work with young people and adults whose mental health is affected by social exclusion or humanitarian crisis.

Our Community Engagement Research Group examines how expertise from psychotherapy and counselling theory and research can help professionals and volunteers who are not specialising in mental health and psychiatric conditions. It aims to help them develop skills that we could put in the service of mental health assessment and prevention, in understanding the strengths and limitations of available mental health services and resources, and in enhancing professionals and volunteers self-care when working with highly vulnerable and traumatised groups.

The output of research and development of this group is applicable in community settings, particularly to individuals in groups who are less likely to use traditional psychotherapy settings, such as refugees and immigrants,  women suffering from domestic and cultural oppression, children and young people, elderly people, and, more generally individuals in adverse socio-economic circumstances, and Black and Asian Minority Ethnicity groups. Projects under this group develop basic mental health educational content and psychoeducation material for volunteers or professionals and develop and evaluate psychotherapeutic interventions in these communities. Our research group is interested in participatory research design and action research methodologies and has social justice as a core theme in the projects.



Current projects:

AMORAY: Assessment of Mental Health of Refugees and Asylum seekers by Youth Workers (2019-2021). https://amoray-project.eu/  Erasmus + Program, Key Action 2 Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices.
Funding: €214,604.
Metanoia Institute is Project coordinator.
Project leader: Dr Evi Chryssafidou.

This project develops a training curriculum for youth workers who work with young migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, France, Spain and Greece. It aims to acknowledge the role youth workers play and upskill them in mental health assessment and prevention, in understanding trauma and vicarious traumatisation, and in developing strategies in collaborating with mental health practitioners and in self-care. The training will be evaluated in four countries.

HEROINES: Empowerment of women with mental illness living in rural areas through writing therapy (2019-2021). https://www.heroines-project.eu/  Erasmus + Program, Key Action 2, Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices.
Funding: €198,604
Metanoia Institute is one of Principal investigators
Project leader: Claire Williamson. 


MENTAL HEALTH IN CRISIS. This project reviews how mental health is influenced by socio-economic crises and examines why mental health services are failing in offering efficient services. Particular attention is given to the role of mental health care in communities
Project leader: Dr Joel Vos.


Recent research output:

Vos, J., Roberts, R. & Davies, J. (2019). Mental health in crisis. SAGE: London.