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DIAMONDS project runner-up in service users and carers award

Posted on 26 October 2020

A mental health research project at the University of York is runner-up in a national competition to highlight the best examples of service user and carer involvement in mental health research studies.

The Diabetes and Mental Illness, Improving Outcomes and Self-management (DIAMONDS) programme was recognised in the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) User and Carer Involvement Awards 2020 for its role in involving service users through its DIAMONDS Voice initiative.

The DIAMONDS programme, based in the University’s Department of Health Sciences, aims to improve the support available for people living with severe mental illness and type-2 diabetes.

The awards, organised by the NIHR in partnership with mental health research charities the McPin Foundation and MQ, highlight the achievements of researchers who involve service users, carers and the public in each stage of the research process.

The application for the award was led by a long-standing member of DIAMONDS Voice who has been part of the group since its launch.


DIAMONDS programme manager Jennifer Brown said: “I am delighted that we have finished runner-up in this national competition. It’s wonderful to see the close collaboration between DIAMONDS Voice and the research team recognised and celebrated in this way.

“Of course, we would have loved to attend an awards ceremony as a special treat but this year we will put our newly acquired Zoom skills to good use and celebrate virtually. I have learned a lot from working with DIAMONDS Voice and can’t wait to see what the next year will bring.”

One member of the DIAMONDS Voice group said: “I’m proud of what I have achieved. If I was not involved I would have been stuck at first base.

“I have grown in confidence since being part of DIAMONDS. I started with completing a questionnaire, got involved in Voice group meetings - setting up events stalls, then chairing the meetings, I became a research champion and now I am a governor of my NHS trust.”

People with severe mental illness (SMI) are two to three times more likely than the general population to have type-2 diabetes (T2D) and their life expectancy is reduced by around ten to fifteen years.

Addressing needs

Self-management is an important and effective way to control T2D. There are several diabetes education programmes available on the NHS but these don’t always address the particular needs of people living with SMI.

Working with service users, the DIAMONDS project has developed a new management programme, including a mobile phone app, to improve the long term management of the condition.

The team and DIAMONDS Voice are also re-developing the project website with a focus on accessibility and presenting research in an easy to understand and accessible way. This work is supported by the Mentally Fit York fund.