Implementing Connecting People in community mental health teams: good co-design but poor implementation. Presented at the Symposium of Collaboration with practitioners and service users in mental health social work practice research in the UK: challenges and new directions, presented at the ICPR-2023: 6th International Conference on Practice Research in Social Work – Participation, Co-Creation and Service Users' Positions. 7th-9th June 2023, Aalborg University, Denmark.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Background: Mental health services in the UK experience high demand and long waiting lists. People are often discharged back to primary care when acute crises have passed, so the opportunity to use social interventions to assist their recovery can be brief. Connecting People is a social intervention which practitioners can use to support a person to (re-)engage with their local community, though its implementation in community mental health teams was found to be limited in a previous pilot study. Methods: An implementation toolkit was co-designed with practitioners and service users to support the full implementation of Connecting People in community mental health teams. This included practice guidance, a training manual, an implementation manual and a service user leaflet. The use of the toolkit was evaluated in a pre-post controlled quasi-experimental study. Service users were interviewed at baseline (n=151) and at six-month follow-up (n=127). Results: Six-month follow-up data was available for 127 participants, and their outcome and cost data were analysed on an intention-to-treat basis. Analysis of primary and secondary outcome variables found no differences between the intervention and control groups. The economic evaluation found no significant differences between groups in mean costs or outcomes. Conclusion and implications: The co-designed toolkit was widely appreciated and positively evaluated by practitioners and service users alike. However, due to operational pressures and the dominance of medical and psychological interventions, social workers found it challenging to implement Connecting People. To give social interventions a chance to succeed, it is necessary to challenge professional hierarchies in mental health services and provide opportunities for full engagement in social work practice research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICPR-2023, 7th-9th June 2023, Aalborg University, Denmark
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2023


  • practice research, social intervention, connecting people, mental health

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