The Project

INNOVATE is committed to drive a new transformative agenda for mental health and suicide prevention in Essex. We are a consortium that catalyses multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder dialogue, research, and practice that deepens intersectional analysis and its application to drive a new transformative research and praxis agenda for health and social care while prioritising engagement of underserved population groups.

The network will produce new ways to consider health inequalities challenges, drawing on leading edge intersectional analysis, and offer grounded insights, practical tools and innovative approaches to build capabilities, and foster resilient systems and healthy communities. It will generate a participatory research and action agenda in the policy field of mental health and suicide prevention, an area that bridges healthcare and social care, and requires effective integration of the two.


This will be achieved by developing sustainable multi-stakeholder partnerships across Essex that will deliver a dynamic programme of work under the following inter-related objectives:

  1. Establish a community of research and practice to interrogate gaps, co-design tools, and build capacities for reducing mental health disparities.
  2. Develop community research leadership and capacities and mobilise local community assets to co-design innovative research and actions to reduce Mental health burden.
  3. Develop new tools and guidance for operationalising an intersectional approach in considering and tackling health disparities in mental health and well-being.
  4. Co-create new research methodologies to reach multiply disadvantaged under-served groups to generate new analyses as well as innovative and sustainable solutions.
  5. Strengthen partnerships to enhance uptake and responsiveness of research and policy planning to reduce disparities in mental health burden and build healthier societies.


Addressing the purpose of our project, our activities are organised across 4 interrelated work-streams broadly structured along the four stages of effective community engagement “Data, Dialogue, Design & Advocacy” outlined in the community engagement framework developed by Prof. Kapilashrami for the WHO EMRO. 

These work-streams are not sequential, but overlapping and concurrent, and are jointly led by an academic and non-academic partner. Each stream includes a range of participatory activities that are core network activities that will build capacities of and facilitate knowledge exchange among consortium partners; and network plus activities/outputs that will amplify network’s learnings and create opportunities for wider communities/institutions in the Essex region.

More specifically

WS1: Evidence, Enquiry & Tools stream aims to collate and review evidence on the burden of poor mental health in Essex, including among vulnerable populations, and identify key Mental Health priorities and stakeholder understandings of inequality that shape these priorities.

WS2: Participatory Asset Mapping & Dialogue stream aims to collectively map community assets and explore their distribution and equity challenges in reaching multiply disadvantaged groups.

WS3:  Experiential learning & Capacity stream building using creative arts builds creative communities of research to explore lived experiences of community assets and inequalities and co-produce an action agenda. 

WS4: Research development, Advocacy & Action stream will design and deliver a knowledge-sharing event that would build on and extend previous programmes of ‘engaged research’ that have facilitated organizational learning across previously segmented parts of the Essex care system. It will communicate findings and insights from the INNOVATE project to care commissioners, integration leads and other senior.