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Involving people with lived experience of mental health issues in mental health training could address gaps in current knowledge, say researchers

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
  • Management School academics release report on the role of lived experience in mental health training during Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
  • Scoping report spotlights gaps in current knowledge of research on how best to involve people with lived experience in mental health training
  • Report flags six priority areas for further research enquiry

Sheffield University Management School academics highlight the need for more research on how people with lived experience of mental health issues are involved in mental health training.

Professor Rachael Finn and Dr Kamal Birdi, Sheffield University Management School, received funding from the Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Research Capacity Fund to conduct research on the role of lived experience in mental health training.

The project involved a review of current literature on the evaluation and effectiveness of lived experience education in mental health training, a practice review to identify the variety of lived experience education courses in the Sheffield City Region, and a co-production workshop attended by service users, lived experience educators and academics. The workshop was an arena to discuss the reviews, share experiences and prioritise areas for further research.

Report launch

Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, the report will be launched on Tuesday 14 May at Sheffield Health and Social Care. Sheffield Health and Social Care provide specialist services to improve the mental, physical and social wellbeing of the people living in local communities.

Professor Finn and Dr Birdi concluded that existing research is patchy and highlight the need for further research that is co-produced with mental health practitioners and people with lived experience of mental health issues to help address gaps in current knowledge.

“It’s been great to carry out this work with a team of people passionate about user involvement in education and training of mental health professionals. This is a crucial area for research because whilst it is increasingly accepted as good practice and there are many exciting initiatives locally and nationally, we know a lot less about how best to do this meaningfully and the impact this has on services and experiences of care.”

Professor Rachael Finn

“From a practical viewpoint, it was clear that health organisations need to have proactive strategies on how to engage, develop and support lived experience educators as opposed to taking an ad hoc approach.”

Dr Kamal Birdi

Future research

Based on this initial scoping project, Professor Finn and Dr Birdi compiled six priority areas for further research and produced nine practical recommendations for improving the value of lived experience in the training of mental health professionals, including:

  • Health Organisations need to develop an overall strategy to involve Service User Educators (SUEs) in education and training
  • Ensure role clarity for SUEs
  • Provide ongoing training and support for SUEs
  • Target relevant populations for training
  • Ensure co-trainer clarity on need for lived experience in their programme
  • Ensure SUEs are prepared for different types of sessions
  • Ensure preparation of trainees
  • Allow flexibility in delivery of sessions to accommodate personal preferences
  • Provide post-session debriefing and support for SUEs

The full report can be accessed by visiting the Institute of Work Psychology website.

British Academy/Leverhulme grant success for SUMS

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

From extinction accounting, to credit unions and developing welfare – the Management School’s successful British Academy/Leverhulme small research grant wins demonstrate the breadth of our expertise.

These two-year grants, awarded to researcher for stand-out projects in the humanities and social sciences, shape the British Academy’s most popular scheme. SUMS’s 2017 successes are as follows:

Prof Jill Atkins: Engaging business on the state of nature

Jill, a chair in financial accounting, has been awarded a substantial grant to explore the possibility of an extinction accounting framework. Implementation of this would mean that businesses could report on responsible investments – a transformational change that will prevent the extinction of critically endangered species identified on the IUCN Red List.

She said: “Extinction isn’t only an issue for naturalists, scientists and ecologists – businesses, investors and accountants also have a vital role to play. Biodiversity can’t be preserved without the cooperation of global companies, the responsible investment community, and corporate integrated reporting.”

Jill will be conducting the research with Warren Maroun from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Prof Bill Lee: Understanding English credit unions through an international comparison

Credit unions (CUs) are financial co-operatives owned by their members. By encouraging members to save regularly before borrowing, CUs promote thrift and self-help and recycle funds within a population that shares a common bond, helping to promote the financial health of that community.

Legal and regulation changes mean that CUs have been subject to a great deal of change – Bill’s research uses case studies to investigate whether English CUs are abandoning policies that build trust from their membership while implementing risk management policies, and the potential consequences of doing so.

Bill wants to explore whether a comparative study with CUs in New Zealand, which are at a similar stage of development, will unveil alternative strategies which may be pursued.

Dr Anna Topakas, Dr Kamal Birdi and Dr Sam Farley: Understanding how to build bridges for delivering welfare in the community

Public sector organisations, such as the police, councils and housing services, are under pressure to improve service delivery. However, highly publicised cases of poor standard of service are often attributed to failure to coordinate, share information and collaborate effectively between agencies and services.

They are recognising the need to build collaborative spaces, partnerships and networks which can provide a range of benefits. Anna, Kamal and Sam aim to explore the role of work-related factors and individual staff attitudes connected with these inter-organisational initiatives, evaluating them on employee and organisational outcomes.

The project will build a richer understanding of employee factors in this context, make recommendations to enhance collaboration, and provide a proposal for better-informed interagency collaborative platforms.

Engaging and innovative: Kamal Birdi wins teaching award

Thursday, October 6th, 2016


The route from research paper to the classroom is rarely as clear cut as Kamal Birdi’s work on creativity and innovation, which has led to him receiving the Award for Outstanding Practice in Learning and Teaching from the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Using his CLEAR IDEAS innovation development model as a basis for learning, over 13 years Kamal (pictured above) has trained over 1,000 people from private, public and third sector organisations to fulfil their creative potential through research-led teaching in innovation and workplace training/development.

More recently, Kamal has brought CLEAR IDEAS into the classrooms at the Management School – imparting and applying the theory to his Creativity and Innovation module which has been well received by students. Another model developed by Kamal, the Taxonomy of Training and Development Outcomes (TOTADO), has been taught to Occupational Psychology and Human Resources Management students for many years and in 2012 helped a former student to win the Occupational Psychology Practitioner of the Year Award, having applied TOTADO to her training work.

The CLEAR IDEAS app and website portal has brought the problem solving model to the masses, and also allows students and trainees to carry on the practice beyond their taught hours.

On his win, Kamal said: “It is an honour to be given this award and I would like to thank all my Institute of Work Psychology and other Management School colleagues who have helped in the journey and without whom this would not have been possible.

“I am lucky to be teaching something I feel passionate about – you just need to look around at recent events to see that the need for innovative ways of dealing with challenges is something continually faces us. As academics, I do feel we therefore have a crucial role in helping learners to understand how research-based strategies can be used to make a positive difference to the lives of students, communities and organisations. Teaching creativity also forces you to be creative in your own teaching!”

Kamal’s nominator, Professor John Cullen, said: “Kamal works hard to ensure his teaching is engaging, stimulating and innovative. He provides links between research and real-life challenges and issues, and encouraging supportive and constructive collaboration between learners has always been a key focus of his teaching activities.”

Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching and Chair at the Management School, Prof Paul Latreille, added: “Kamal is an exceptional educator. His research journey has always linked into teaching – ensuring an impact on students at all levels, as well as on organisations and policy.

The Teaching Excellence in Social Sciences (TESS) ceremony takes place on 18 October 2016 at ICOSS. Kamal will receive a certificate and £500 towards developing his learning and leaching at the Management School.

Click here to download Kamal’s CLEAR IDEAS app, or here to visit the online portal.

TWENTY65 project launch makes a splash

Monday, February 1st, 2016

TWENTY65 launch London Jan 26 2016

Sheffield Water Centre, alongside Drs Kamal Birdi and Tina McGuiness from the Management School, celebrated winning the EPSRC’s Grand Challenge for ‘Sustainable Water for all’ at the TWENTY65 Official Launch at Whitehall, London.

The event was opened by Kedar Pandya, Head of Engineering at EPSRC and was attended by key players from the Water Sector, including the Head of Sustainability for the GLA and the KTN Manager for Water, ARUP, Murphy Group and Water Utility companies from across the UK.

The research initiative, which will see the University of Sheffield collaborate with five other universities on meeting the water challenges of the next 50 years, was launched on Monday 25th January. TWENTY65’s tagline is ‘Tailored Water Solutions for Positive Impact’. It will seek to address the ‘grand challenge’ of providing sustainable water for all in the face of population growth, climate change, urbanisation and ageing infrastructure in the years to 2065. The project aims to provide thought leadership through a partnership approach between the universities, water utilities, trade associations and the supply chain.

Dr Kamal Birdi (pictured above left, standing), who is leading the project theme on collaboration for innovation, said: “The event began with an overview of the programmem with project leads outlining their research plans. I then facilitated a range of activities designed to get different water sector stakeholders (water companies, supply chain, professional bodies and academics) to identify the most critical disruptive innovations we require in the water sector over the next 50 years. We were trying to put our collaboration for innovation ethos into practice.

“There were 72 attendees from many sectors. The day was busy, buzzing with enthusiasm and discussion and seemed to engage everyone thoroughly in TWENTY65’s ambitions.”

Tina McGuiness is contributing to another project theme on mobilisation.

Interdisciplinary research project will secure the future of water

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

A £3.9million research project, involving six universities and 26 companies from across the UK water sector, will ensure the UK maintains a clean, sustainable water supply for the future – with contributions from two Management School academics.

The project – led by the University of Sheffield – will help the UK water sector tackle key challenges, including population growth, ageing infrastructure and climate change. The project is part of the £21million ‘Engineering Grand Challenges’ funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Named TWENTY 65 (Tailored Water to Ensure sustainability beyond 2065), the project will ensure flexible and adaptive water systems by developing multiple solutions and technologies that can be ‘tailored’ to suit specific circumstances. Dr Kamal Birdi and Dr Tina McGuiness from the Management School are involved in two of the project’s eight key themes – Collaboration for Innovation, and Mobilisation respectively.

Professor Joby Boxall, from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering and Director of Sheffield Water Centre, who will head the TWENTY 65 project, said: “Water supply is the foundation of society, but a service we are privileged to be able to take for granted in the UK. There is no single solution to the sustainable supply of safe clean water for the future. Our vision is that by 2065, collaborative innovation has generated a water sector that is delivering sustainable tailored water solutions that positively impact on public health, the environment, the economy and society. New approaches and models for collaborative working across the water sector are an essential part of the project. We have support pledged from over 50 partners and will be looking to get more organisations on board. This is a truly unique and exciting opportunity to take a long-term view of how we can develop and implement technology to deliver transformative change.”

The project was developed in response to an EPSRC call in early 2015 which set out four Engineering Grand Challenges, developed through a two day event involving academics from many disciplines, representatives from industry and government.

A clear approach to new ideas: Dr Kamal Birdi’s work highlighted by the ESRC

Friday, July 24th, 2015


His work on creativity and innovation in the workplace has gained momentum over the last decade, and with the launch of a CLEAR IDEAS iPad app earlier this year, Dr Kamal Birdi’s work on the framework is starting to make a significant impact on public services in the Sheffield City Region.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have highlighted Kamal’s study as a key impact case-study on their website, focusing on how the CLEAR IDEAS innovation development model has improved cost-efficiency in service delivery for public sector organisations, leading to savings of £1.7million for social care services in Sheffield.

Click here to read the whole article on the ESRC website.

Kamal explained the benefits of the CLEAR IDEAS framework to us: “CLEAR IDEAS is a way of tackling problems more creatively. It’s not just a way of helping you come up with more ideas; it will also help you pick which ideas to take forward and will assist you in putting those ideas into practice more effectively.

“Lots of innovations or creative efforts fail because the individual doesn’t come up with enough original ideas, doesn’t know how to pick which ideas to take forward, can’t get buy-in to their ideas or know how to implement them.

“As a result, some potentially great ideas fail because creativity and innovation aren’t taken into account well enough. So what the CLEAR IDEAS approach does is it helps develop the skills and knowledge in people in terms of how to tackle problems creatively, and come up with an innovation. The app is a way of embedding that process that you can carry out yourself – give it a problem, and it will take you through ten steps you need to go through to come up with new ideas, picking those ideas, and coming up with a strategy for implementing them.”

The ESRC also highlighted Kamal’s contribution to the Festival of Social Sciences 2013 in this document (page 31).

Now Kamal has trained over 1,000 individuals worldwide, the benefits have become tangible – key successes from the ESRC piece are highlighted below:

  • An estimated £1.7million saving was made by Sheffield City Council by introducing cost-effective and more efficient practices in the delivery of adult social care services.
  • South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue used CLEAR IDEAS’s creative-thinking techniques to make improvements in the fitting of 19,000 smoke alarms, with a cost-saving in materials alone of 3p per unit. In addition, the simple and effective solution which was adopted led to a reduced need for trained staff when refitting previously poorly-installed smoke alarms.
  • CLEAR IDEAS techniques were used to influence the adoption of an alternative drug for gastric medication in Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. Savings of £10,000 per year were estimated to have been made by the Trust, due to more accurate administration, dosage and patient compliance.
  • A training resource including the CLEAR IDEAS model was developed in 2010 to enhance the leadership and skills of public sector managers and employees. Since introduction, 216 people from local councils, NHS Trusts, the police, fire and rescue service, educational institutions and other local services have participated.

Find out more about Kamal’s research here, and download the app for your iPad here.


What’s your problem? IWP expert launches innovative solution-finding app

Friday, February 6th, 2015


Taking a creative approach to solving problems can really lead to powerful new innovations, according to over a decade of research by Sheffield University Management School’s Dr Kamal Birdi.

Dr Birdi’s CLEAR IDEAS framework has been used in training private, public and third sector organisations all over the UK, and is now set to go worldwide with the release of the new CLEAR IDEAS iPad app which guides users through the innovative problem solving process.
Working within the Institute of Work Psychology at Sheffield University Management School, Dr Birdi has seen significant cost-saving, efficiency-raising results in organisations he’s worked with such as the NHS, local councils and emergency services through a visiting training programme. He said: “CLEAR IDEAS is a way of tackling problems more creatively. It’s not just a way of helping you come up with more ideas; it will also help you pick which ideas to take forward and will assist you in putting those ideas into practice more effectively.

“Lots of innovations or creative efforts fail because the individual doesn’t come up with enough original ideas, doesn’t know how to pick which ideas to take forward, can’t get buy-in to their ideas or know how to implement them.

“As a result, some potentially great ideas fail because creativity and innovation aren’t taken into account well enough. So what the CLEAR IDEAS approach does is it helps develop the skills and knowledge in people in terms of how to tackle problems creatively, and come up with an innovation. The app is a way of embedding that process that you can carry out yourself – give it a problem, and it will take you through ten steps you need to go through to come up with new ideas, picking those ideas, and coming up with a strategy for implementing them.”

Now the approach is available on iPads, users such as professional managers can put their problems to the test on the go – perhaps on a commute, or in the spare half-an-hour before a big meeting. It doesn’t require an internet connection to go through the CLEAR IDEAS app process, so there’s no need to worry about unreliable WiFi or 4G blackspots either.

The CLEAR IDEAS method has seen such success through training workshops, Dr Birdi is excited to see it rolled out to a wider audience: “CLEAR IDEAS was a model that was developed 10 years ago, based on years of research looking at what makes for successful creativity and innovation in organisations – and as well as bringing that research to life, making it more proactive and applicable.

“We have been training hundreds of people, in lots of different organisations using this methodology, so the app is one part of a new toolkit which will help open up the approach to many others. We know from evidence that we’ve gathered that using the approach can help develop new services and more efficient ways of working, for example with the help of CLEAR IDEAS a local council redesigned an adult social care service which they’ve estimated has saved over £1million in its first year of operation.

“It’s an ongoing process as more and more organisations use our methodology, and the CLEAR IDEAS app is a way of helping to make the model accessible to more people.”

You can download the CLEAR IDEAS app for £4.49 here:

Workshops for business – develop skills at the IWP International Conference 2014

Monday, May 12th, 2014

The biennial Institute of Work Psychology International Conference will be taking place from 24-26 June, but the day for businesses to look out for is Tuesday 24th.

Expert academic and practitioner speakers at the Institute are offering a series of workshops designed for individual, team or organisational development. They will be held at Sheffield University Management School, on Conduit Road.

All workshops prices include materials, refreshments, lunch, and the evening event. Our evening event includes our business keynote speech, and networking drinks and dinner.

Should you wish to discuss these workshops in any more detail or design a package that will suit your organisation, please contact Dr Angela Carter (, 0114 222 3250). If you wish to register several delegates for a particular workshop, we are happy to undertake a needs analysis to enable the content to be tailored to specific requirements. Read more online:


CLEAR IDEAS: How to be practically creative at work (10am-4:30pm, £99pp)
By Dr Kamal Birdi

Participants will learn how to:

• Analyse opportunities for innovation

• Use different creative thinking techniques to help produce more original ideas

• Generate methods for evaluating the quality of new ideas

• Identify barriers to innovation-led change and develop strategies for getting ideas for new products, services or processes put into practice

Organisations need to continually innovate in order to survive and thrive in a global marketplace. But how do you keep coming up with truly original new ideas? What levers can you use to make sure your new products or processes are successfully realised?

Our workshop draws together extensive research and practical experience to provide participants with a systematic process (CLEAR IDEAS©) for effectively generating and implementing new ideas at work. Hundreds of participants from private, public and third sector organisations (e.g., Tetra Pak, BOC, the BBC, NHS, Scottish Government and SCOPE) have already taken part in our workshops and our evaluation shows that using the CLEAR IDEAS approach can really help maximize organizational outcomes and enhance value for money.

Find out more and register online on the website:


Maximising leadership performance in different situations (11am-12:30pm or 2pm-3:30pm, £49)
Dr Angela Carter, Andrew Smith and Bob Wheeler

Participants will learn how to:

• Explore various leadership styles

• Adapt various leadership styles to situations

• Evaluate various leadership styles

• Reflect, model and develop own leadership styles

This workshop will focus on the ability to adapt leadership styles and behaviours to maximise effectiveness in a variety of situations (strategy development, performance management, and developing people). Through the lens of adaptability; models of Engaging Leadership (Alimo-Metcalfe, Alban-Metcalfe, Bradley, Mariathasan, & Samele, 2008) and Situational Leadership (Hersey & Blanchard, 1977) along with the Leadership Judgement Indicator (LJI, Lock & Wheeler, 2005) will be described, modelled and practiced to facilitate participants’ development.

Find out more and register online on the website:


To ask or not to ask? Why successful organisations ask more questions (10am-12:30pm or 2pm-4:30pm, £49)
Sarah Brooks & Andreana M Drencheva

Participants will gain an understanding of:

• The benefits of seeking internal and external feedback

• The usefulness of informal communication for achieving organisation goals

• The role of a feedback seeking strategy

• Tools and techniques to gather optimal feedback

It is the ability and willingness of individuals to ask questions that makes both start-ups and established organisations successful. From overcoming organisational silence to improving performance and catalysing innovation, asking questions and seeking feedback are valuable personal and organisational resources.

Combining new tools with academic research, theory and case studies, this workshop will help you to identify what you should be asking, when and of whom to achieve organisational goals. Are you ready to ask more questions?


Combination package: ’To ask or not to ask’ and ‘maximising leadership performance’ workshops (£75)

Find out more and register online on the website:



IWP launches Research Update 2014

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

The Institute of Work Psychology (IWP), part of Sheffield University Management School, is delighted to announce the release of its Research Update 2014.

Collating just a few of the IWP’s fantastic research successes and ongoing projects, the publication documents work from prominent members of staff including Professor Peter Warr, Dr Carolyn Axtell, Dr David E Rast, Professor Penny Dick, Dr Kamal Birdi, Dr Eva Selenko, Dr Malcolm Patterson and Dr Jeremy Dawson. It also covers the work by the Institute’s high-achieving group of early career researchers and PhD students.

Read it online here, or see the document below. If you’d like to hear from the IWP in the future, email

Leaders in their Field: Joint Sheffield City Region Leadership Programme celebrates its third cohort

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Delegates and the teaching team

Delegates and the teaching team

Firth Court was an appropriately grand setting for the third set of graduates from the Sheffield City Region Leadership Programme.A pianist enhanced the classical sense of occasion, while successful delegates from the programme, along with their tutors and representatives from the Universities, gathered and enjoyed the canapés ahead of an evening of inspiring speeches and individuals.

The innovative course, run collaboratively by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, is building a generation of highly trained, socially networked leaders in the city region. This year’s cohort included representatives from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, many of the region’s councils, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the NHS and South Yorkshire Police.

After introductions from Sheffield University Management School’s Associate Dean for Knowledge Exchange Professor John Cullen and Acting Dean Professor David Oglethorpe, as well as Deputy Dean of Sheffield Business School Professor Isobel Doole, graduates of the year-long programme watched a presentation filmed specially for them from Lord Michael Bichard. In it he discussed the significance of the programme in a national context and the importance of cross-agency working, as well as passing on his congratulations.

Delegates then crossed the stage to collect their certificate, becoming the programme’s third cohort.

Isobel David Nigel CRLP Event 20 Nov 2013

Prof David Oglethorpe, Nigel Brewster and Prof Isobel Doole

Following the ceremony, Nigel Brewster, partner at  bespoke recruitment company Brewster Pratap and a private-sector board-member for Sheffield City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), took to the lectern to discuss the benefits of both universities working together, and how our cooperating and the potential of an academy is helping the work of the LEP. Mr Brewster’s knowledge of skills added an interesting focus to his talk.

Lord Bichard’s virtual presence at the ceremony was highly relevant, as he has long championed cross-agency working and skill-building excellence. After a long and illustrious career in Government, including a spell as Permanent Secretary of the Department for Education and Employment, he retired in 2001. However, he is still a very active in Chair and advisory positions, and throughout his career has overseen significant changes to the education policy landscape, such as the introduction of the Learning and Skills Council to fund further education and apprenticeships.

Speaking to the graduates gives you a real sense of the achievement they feel following completion of the PG certificate. From learning the rigorous academic theory behind Dr Kamal Birdi’s Clear Ideas, to simply finding the confidence to articulate their ideas in a meeting, each University brings its own specialisms and expertise to enhance the delegates’ existing professional expertise.

Photographs in Firth Court’s beautiful Tapestry Room and networking with the new graduates formed a fitting end to the evening.