MQ Ambassador profiles: meet James Downs

In a sequence of profiles, we at MQ Psychological Well being Analysis want to introduce to you a few of our great MQ Ambassadors. Representing our charity organisation, our ambassadors assist to unfold the message of what MQ does, why psychological well being analysis is so vital and lend their voices of lived expertise experience of psychological sickness.

MQ Ambassador James Downs, a psychological well being campaigner and researcher, kindly shared his story about why listening to lived expertise is important on this planet of psychological well being analysis.


James, thanks a lot for chatting with us. You’ve contributed to analysis initiatives and extra for us this previous 12 months. How does it really feel to contribute your personal experiences to MQ’s work?

During the last 12 months, I’ve been fortunate to participate in some sensible work with MQ as an Ambassador. From that includes within the sensible new e-book, Your Psychological Well being, to being part of the ground-breaking Gone Too Quickly roadmap, which addresses the causes of untimely demise amongst these dwelling with psychological sickness and misery like me. I’ve felt included and valued as a part of a rising group of individuals eager about psychological well being analysis.

Greater than this, I consider that incorporating the information gained from experiencing a situation actually enriches the worth of analysis, which at its greatest acknowledges that there are a lot of methods of realizing, and every can improve the opposite.


As somebody with a background in analysis and lived expertise of psychological sickness, what are you able to contribute to analysis that others might not?

In sensible phrases, I usually consider concepts, gaps in proof, and novel options based mostly on experiencing my situations and being a affected person that others inside analysis groups may not consider. I’m typically a lone voice in suggesting that the methods during which analysis talks about psychological well being situations may not be shared or appreciated by those that expertise them.

My litmus check as as to whether being included in analysis means something is whether or not my being concerned makes a distinction, and whether or not the identical final result can be created had been I to not be within the room.


Are there any downsides to contributing to analysis initiatives for you personally?

While I worth the work that I do and the initiatives I’ve been fortunate to contribute to, I’ve additionally learnt that working from the premise of experience from expertise could be taxing. In addition to it being laborious to know when, how and the way a lot to share your experiences, it’s usually tough to know when you could or might not be representing one thing broader than simply your personal expertise.


Do you assume this might apply to different folks eager about collaborating in analysis?

All of us have particular person, uniquely-situated lives, certain specifically contexts at specific instances – so was can I say about my expertise that is likely to be related to anybody else?

Having lived with notably stigmatised and poorly understood situations akin to character dysfunction and bulimia nervosa, I do know there are different folks like me after I take a look at epidemiological knowledge, however I haven’t heard from others like me, or met a lot of them, least of all examine their experiences and remedy in analysis papers. I don’t know if others encounter a few of the issues in care that I’ve, or the identical misunderstandings, however I usually assume it value addressing them simply in case anybody does.


Is it difficult once you’re so conscious of the gaps in information you are attempting to assist fill?

If you end up making an attempt to fill a information hole, it’s typically tough then to know what the form of that hole is. The creation of latest information would possibly contain shedding gentle on a complete swathe of points impacting many individuals that haven’t been nicely addressed and even articulated a lot earlier than. That is the truth of the stage we’re at in the case of psychological well being science – it’s nonetheless in its infancy.

While there are great initiatives taking place with extra power than ever earlier than within the subject of analysis, too many individuals nonetheless reside their lives in a information hole, and the truth of being unknown is that it may be a really lonely and stigmatising place to be.


Why is it so vital to contain these with lived expertise of psychological sickness in analysis?

There may be a lot we will be taught from those that are usually not but mirrored within the scientific literature, and giving platforms to take heed to them and respect what they know to be true about their expertise is vitally vital – not just for a richer understanding of psychological well being issues amongst researchers and clinicians, however to redress the experiences of being silenced and feeling unheard in our misery that so many individuals like me have endured for too lengthy.


Our because of James for sharing his story, highlighting simply why analysis issues for psychological well being and why the work MQ Psychological Well being Analysis does should proceed.



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