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Case study: Mark Moran: Expert by Lived Experience, Expert Researcher.

Mark Moran is a Research Champion who helps to raise awareness of mental health research taking place across the North West Coast: Clinical Research Network. Mark is a husband, father, grandad and a mental fitness campaigner living in Warrington.

When not volunteering for Bipolar UK, Mark is kept busy as Founder and Director of Services for RISE, a charity based in Warrington that helps to Resolve Inner Stressful Emotions. A year ago he met the team at the Clinical Research Network at an event to raise awareness of research, since that time Mark has made a big impact in a short space of time. This year he has played a key role in the establishment of a mental health network for the region and is helping to positively challenge the region’s mental health researchers into making research more patient centred.

Mark is pictured below with Sarah Dyas, the Mental Health Research Delivery Manager for the Clinical Research Network: North West Coast. We took time to interview Mark about his thoughts on being an NIHR Research Champion.


Q) What motivated you to become a Research Champion for the Clinical Research Network: North West Coast?

Without people in research we could not have found the breakthroughs we have. Having the lived experience I have with my mental health struggles, I wanted to specialise in this area to find out more and what is the current thinking in battling such problems that affect so many people daily.

I am a firm believer that knowledge is power, so the more I can get to know about things the better equipped I can be when the darkness falls. I also have the opportunity to share my experience with others who, like me, find it hard at times; this is the main reason I got involved in helping others in any way I can to prevent them from going through the pain I have.

I was a carer for my older brother, who took his own life when he could battle his demons no longer. Having seen problems from either side has given me a unique insight into the challenges that poor mental health brings


Q) What activities have you been involved with as a research champion and what difference do you feel they make to others and to research?

As part of my role, I support our local services by helping write survey questions and staff induction training materials. I have also helped to host new staff induction events, to show new colleagues what research is all about and what we do internally. Education and exposure to research is critical, getting people to know what we do, how we do it, and how they can get involved.

I also get a chance to be a test subject so research staff can try out their techniques and approach to fine-tune their skills to get the best out of the research they carry out. Our participants are critical to the process, and excellent personal skills are vital to enabling people to get involved and help us progress further.


Q) How has being a Research Champions benefited you and how have you been supported?

The support I have been second to none, both the regional team and my local colleagues, have always welcomed me as an equal. They do not see me as someone with additional needs but with someone that can give forward. They enable me, and they make me feel that like I am heard and I have something important to say has boosted my confidence. Being a Research Champion helps me repair the damage done to me in my early years that didn’t enable much self-esteem or drive. Now I am grateful for the pain I have endured because it makes me the man I am today, and I am now able to give others the benefit of that experience to hopefully ease pain and support others through the process. Research is vital, and you have to know what you are fighting before you go into battle. Whether its new drugs, therapies or devices, research shows what works and what doesn’t… ensuring quality and ethically sought solutions to life's challenges. I am one who has been saved by research because without, we would not have the life-saving treatment we have now, and I am proud to give what time I can to make it that that little better!