You might bring clinical training, service implementation experience, or data expertise from a different field. The research questions we need to address in mental health are broad. Ambitious people from clinical and non-clinical backgrounds work in mental health research. Your careers might well crosscut boundaries and span non-traditional areas. Your commitment to solving real world problems is vital.
People with clinical practice experience or training offer invaluable expertise in mental health research teams. Training in assessment formulation and intervention is a great grounding for building a logical argument to a research proposal: what’s the whole problem – why is it happening – and how are we going to solve it.
If you have experience of working with big datasets, for example in a government or public health setting, you have a relevant skillset for mental health research. Methods from epidemiology and clinical trials, traditional statistical techniques and machine learning, are in demand in many mental health research teams.
Time spent managing or working within a mental health service is an extremely important experience that can be brought to mental health research. Many researchers who come from backgrounds in health service delivery, find that their first-hand knowledge and contacts help bring the focus on the important issues. Your experience helps refine the study design so it is most effective.
Even training from your undergraduate studies is enough to get started and build your research experience. Your programme director or other contacts from your training days will likely know about studies you can assist on, and other opportunities you can use to build on your existing skills.
Many of the methods we use to understand and improve mental health are those that are used in other disciplines. That means if you’ve worked in the social sciences or physical sciences and are interested in applying your analytical skills to applied health research, there are many opportunities for you here.