Community Engagement in a complex intervention to improve access to primary mental health care for hard-to-reach groups

Jonathan Lamb, Christopher Dowrick, Heather Burroughs, Susan Beatty, Suzanne Edwards, Kate Bristow, Pam Clarke, Jonathan Hammond, Waquas Waheed, Mark Gabbay, Linda Gask

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Despite the availability of effective evidence-based treatments for depression and anxiety, many ‘harder-to-reach’ social and patient groups experience difficulties accessing treatment. We developed a complex intervention, the AMP (Improving Access to Mental Health in Primary Care) programme, which combined community engagement (CE), tailored (individual and group) psychosocial interventions and primary care involvement. Objectives To develop and evaluate a model for community engagement component of the complex intervention. This paper focuses on the development of relationships between stakeholders, their engagement with the issue of access to mental health and with the programme through the CE model. Design Our evaluation draws on process data, qualitative interviews and focus groups, brought together through framework analysis to evaluate the issues and challenges encountered. Setting & participants A case study of the South Asian community project carried out in Longsight in Greater Manchester, United Kingdom. Key findings Complex problems require multiple local stakeholders to work in concert. Assets based approaches implicitly make demands on scarce time and resources. Community development approaches have many benefits, but perceptions of open-ended investment are a barrier. The time-limited nature of a CE intervention provides an impetus to ‘do it now’, allowing stakeholders to negotiate their investment over time and accommodating their wider commitments. Both tangible outcomes and recognition of process benefits were vital in maintaining involvement. Conclusions CE interventions can play a key role in improving accessibility and acceptability by engaging patients, the public and practitioners in research and in the local service ecology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-831
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2014


  • action research;BME;community engagement;evaluation;interventions;mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Community Engagement in a complex intervention to improve access to primary mental health care for hard-to-reach groups'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this