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New Perspectives for Learning - Briefing Paper 69

Empowerment of Mental Illness Service Users: lifelong learning, integration and action  

This is an Interim Briefing Paper of the project that will start in spring 2005

Context of the Research

There is a growing awareness that people who use mental health services should have more control over the type of treatment that they receive. Some evidence suggests that this lack of empowerment, control or influence can lead to increased poor health. However, the ability on the part of the user to exercise control and influence, even where high stress is present, can act as a protective factor against levels of risk against cardio-vascular disease.

This project is seeking to use lifelong learning as both a process and a method by which the profound social exclusion of mental health service users can be addressed and improved. It is attempting to do this by empowering service users to undertake an array of paid occupational roles ranging from research, training and education, auditing and service provision. They will be supported in this by a comprehensive array of accredited education and training programmes that it is hoped will enable and support service users to develop the skills necessary for undertaking these roles.

The project will develop a multiple site case study and demonstrations. The aim is to encourage mental health services to comprehensively develop and optimise lifelong learning strategies, thus opening up new employment routes for service users in mental health services.

Innovative pedagogical strategies will be used in order to shift in emphasis from knowledge acquisition to competence, implying new roles for both teachers and learners. Also, throughout the project, gender and race issues of imbalance and inequality will be addressed.

Key Issues

The project will address the following key issues: -

Further Information

The full title of the project is: “EMILIA: Empowerment of Mental Illness Service Users: Life Long Learning, Integration and Action”. The final report is due in 2009.

The maximum EU financial contribution to this project will be 3.4 million Euros for a total duration of 54 months.

Research Institutions

Middlesex University London, UK
Hospital Maison Blanche, Paris, France
Department of Education, Aarhus, Denmark
Department of Nursing, University of Tampere, Finland
Kings College, University of London, UK
Nordland Psychiatric Hospital, Bodo, Norway
Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland
The Social and Psychiatry Department, Stroestrum, Denmark
Vilnius University, Lithuania
University of Ljublana, Slovenia
HealthNet International, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
EPAPSY, Athéna, Greece
Agencia de Salut Publica, Barcelona, Spain

Contact Person

Professor Peter Ryan (MPhil CQSW DProf)
Mental Health and Social Work Academic Group
Holborn Building
Archway Campus
Middlesex University
10 Highgate Hill
London N19 5 ND
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 208 411 4908
Fax: +44 208 411 3040
Email: or

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Last updated 28 June 2007