How you can get involved and make a difference

Get involved and make a difference: cartoon images of people of different ages on their phones, on computers or on their iPads


There are so many ways to get involved in mental health research. Here you can find many opportunities to play your part, whether you would like to take part in studies, use your personal experiences to shape research, connect with like-minded researchers or stay up to date with the latest mental health research.

This page was last updated in March 2023, but we took care to include links that will continue to be relevant throughout the year and into 2024.

A number of the UKRI mental health research networks have facilitated the creation of special interest groups. These are communities of people who are passionate about specific topics in mental health research. They work together to share knowledge and inform practice. 


Although MARCH network has finished, if you are inspired by their work, there are still opportunities to get involved with special interest groups relating to community and social assets and mental health. Find out more here.

Emerging Minds

If you are passionate about young people’s mental health, through Emerging Minds you can find a number of special interest groups on youth mental health. From eating disorders to photography to racism, there is a broad range of special interest topics for youth mental health that you can find here.

Closing The Gap

Closing the Gap currently have two special interest groups: oral healthcare for people with severe mental illness (SMI), and primary care for people with SMI. They also have information about how you can form your own special interest group relating to severe mental illness and physical health.


SMaRteN runs a number of virtual groups for people interested in student mental health research. These include virtual labs for PhD student mental health, virtual labs for early-career researchers and PhD students, Measuring Mental Health and Well-being in Students Special Interest Group, and Education for Mental Health Research Group.

We have a whole hub of resources for Early Career Researchers here. Access Open Science presentations, funding tips, ECR-focused webinar recordings from the UKRI networks and more.

Join The McPin Foundation’s Young People’s Network

If you are aged 13-25, then joining McPin’s Young People’s network may be of interest to you. By joining the network, you’ll be the first to hear by email of opportunities to use your experiences to shape research. This could be from helping identify research priorities, using your personal experience to help design studies, paper writing or helping to share findings.

Your personal experiences could help make research better for other people with similar mental health struggles. Not only that, but many of the opportunities are paid – so you’re getting paid to make a difference while building cv-boosting skills.

Join the McPin network (for people aged over 25)

Check out McPin’s involvement page, where you can find learn more about lived experience involvement in research, and express an interest in hearing about opportunities. Alternatively, you can sign up for McPin’s involvement bulletin here.

Participate – MQ

Participate is a platform by MQ Mental Health Research that links mental health researchers with people who want to take part in studies. They have a broad range of studies available. Some are online, some are in person. Some of them offer vouchers or payment for participation.  Please note, Participate is for anyone looking to take part in a study that has already been planned and developed.

Join the Survivor’s Research Network

The Survivor’s Research Network is a survivor-led research organisation. It is different from other Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) models, which are usually researcher-led, as survivors have control over the research process.

Mind’s Influence and Participation Toolkit

Check out this Influence and Participation Toolkit from Mind, all about how people and organisations can meaningfully involve people with lived experience in their work, and how people with lived experience can get involved and make a difference.

The Mental Health Research Incubator inspires and offers practical career advice to current and aspiring researchers. Whether you’re undertaking research now, wish to use your lived experience in research, and/or are working or studying in a related field – there are lots of resources to support you and help you build your network:


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Stay up-to-date with the latest mental health research, or share your own findings

The Mental Elf blog is a great space to follow the latest in mental health research. You can even suggest a paper here if you have some research that you’d like to shout about.

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