RCSI leads new all-Ireland programme to improve care for people experiencing psychosis

  • Research
  • General news
Dr Mike Watts, Professor Agnes Higgins, John Farrelly, Professor Mary Cannon, Professor David Cotter

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is leading a network of world-leading psychosis experts on a new training and research programme to improve care for people who experience psychosis.

The Health Research Board-funded PSI-STAR programme aims to address issues such as prediction and prevention of psychosis, reducing stigma related to the experience of psychosis, predicting physical health outcomes and life expectancy in people who experience psychosis and promoting their recovery.

The programme launch, which took place today at the National Gallery of Ireland, brought together a diverse team with organisational, arts, patient and public involvement (PPI), research, practitioner and academic expertise.

Professor David Cotter, Professor of Molecular Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, RCSI leads the PSI-STAR team which includes co-leads Professor Mary Cannon, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Youth Mental Health at RCSI and Professor Agnes Higgins, Professor in Mental Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin.

Professor Cotter commented: “I am delighted to be a part of this consortium which aims to bring about change in how we think about and respond to those experiencing psychosis. We will train future leaders in this field of research. The multidisciplinary approach within the PSI-STAR team, the meaningful inclusion of PPI and support of our collaborators will ensure we achieve this.”

Professor Agnes Higgins, Trinity College Dublin, said: “The launch of PSI-STAR marks an important milestone for psychosis research in Ireland. Crucially, this programme will help amplify the voice of people with lived experience of psychosis throughout all stages of the research. A voice that is often unheard within the research agenda.”

A positive impact

Psychosis, which includes diagnoses including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, occur in about three in 100 people and usually start in adolescence or young adulthood. They can greatly disrupt a young person's life in terms of their education, social relationships and career outcomes.

It is important to understand the meaning of psychosis from multiple perspectives so that the best treatments and supports can be offered without delay.

The research team involves clinicians and academics from across Ireland in the fields of psychiatry, nursing, social work, sociology and psychology, including an academic with lived experience of psychosis.

The programme is training five PhD students to be leaders in the field of psychosis and make a positive impact on people's lives.

Lived experiences

Discussions at the launch event revolved around how collaborators including Mental Health Reform, GROW, Spunout, SHINE, Peer Advocacy, the theatre production company Brokentalkers, HSE and the Mental Health Commission could best work with the research programme and develop real-world applications of research to policy and practice.

Sharing of lived experiences with psychosis and destigmatising is a main focus.

PSI-STAR is funded through a Health Research Board Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA), a structured doctoral training program leading to the award of a PhD.