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Case study: Hannah Shephard: Championing Research in Mental Health Nursing

Hannah, a third year mental health nursing student, has worked in health and social care for a number of years, first starting as an administrator at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 6 years ago.

Hannah’s interest in research began at a young age, when she participated in a study alongside her brother, who has autism. “I’ve always been interested in psychology and mental health, and then after taking part I became more interested in research. I think it’s benefitted me a lot now as a researcher to have been able to understand what it’s like as a participant.”

While training as a student nurse, Hannah asked to sit in on meetings with the research team, to gain a further understanding of how research works in practice. From this she learned about the funding of studies, how Principle Investigators are recruited, and what good research looks like.

She has since gone on to help engage other nursing students in research, producing training packages, and helping to create an experience to help students to understand what is involved in the research process. “I wanted to improve the pathway for nurses to get involved in research - I wanted to make a difference and lead the change.”

Hannah believes it’s vital that we continue to conduct clinical research within mental health: “In order to produce advances in mental health we must conduct research within this area.  We need to have more dialogue and equality within mental health and research.”

Hannah’s work was recognised this year when she was shortlisted as a finalist in the 2022 Nursing Times Student Awards in their Clinical Research category, for the work she undertook on the student research experience.

“If someone wants a varied career, they should definitely add research into their nursing practice, and we should be making sure that staff have the time to do this.

“We need to ensure that we give patients the best care, and this is achieved through evidence based practice. There are a lot of skills within the nursing workforce that could be tapped into.”

Once qualified, Hannah will begin working at the National Inpatient Centre for Psychological Medicine in Leeds. 

To find out more about how to get into a career in research, visit: