Evaluation of Money and Mental Health advice service, Kent
Evaluation in progress. Expected completion date December 2023
What does the research mean for Local Authorities?
There are growing examples of advice services designed to benefit mental health and wellbeing but there remains a substantial gap concerning how such services can be optimally delivered so as to maximise health benefits. More evidence is needed on the impact of services that provide support to groups experiencing financial hardship. Local evaluation partners have indicated that they would use the evaluation findings to inform future commissioning decisions as well as more formative improvements to the service. Our evidence review suggests an evaluation would contribute to addressing a gap in scientific evidence as robust outcome evaluations of similar schemes are relatively scarce.
What does the evaluation research mean for the Public?
The evaluation findings will inform future commissioning decisions as well as more formative improvements to the service. The evaluation would also contribute to addressing a gap in scientific evidence as robust outcome evaluations of similar schemes are relatively scarce.
The public involvement work that will take place throughout the evaluation will ensure high quality research that is informed by those with lived experiences. This will in turn contribute to better decision making that is based on evidence, which is important as these decisions impact on people’s lives.
How are the public involved in the project?
Public involvement is embedded in PHIRST LiLaC’s work and activities through the PHIRST LiLaC Public Adviser Panel. This panel meets regularly and is responsible for reviewing involvement processes, and providing advice on engagement and involvement plans across the PHIRST LiLaC team and its research.
Public advisers on the panel are contributing their expertise and experience around developing and conducting public health evaluations, rather than having direct lived experience of accessing the local welfare system to be evaluated.
The PHIRST LiLaC Public Adviser Panel will also work closely with PHIRST researchers, advising on the recruitment and conduct of interviews with scheme service users as well as ethical and safeguarding considerations. They will also be actively involved in analysis and interpretation of data from interviews.
We will work closely with community organisations to identify local people to input into the research and enable their lived experience to inform the way the Money and Mental Health service is designed and delivered in the future. This will help us to understand the local context and to develop effective and acceptable approaches to carrying out interviews with people.
Lay Summary of Research
Growing numbers of people in the UK are finding it hard to make ends meet because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. Having to deal with financial difficulties can be very stressful and lead to poor health and wellbeing. People with low incomes are also most likely to be affected. Citizens Advice is delivering a Money and Mental Health advice service to support people who are experiencing both mental health and money problems living in Kent and Medway. This includes support to reduce debts and to claim benefits, as well as budgeting advice.
The aims of this evaluation are (i) to understand the impact that the service has on the health and wellbeing of those who receive support (ii) to understand who accesses the service (iii) to understand what works well about the service and what could be improved in future (iv) to understand what costs are involved in delivering the service.
We will collect information to find out what impact this service has on differences in people’s health and wellbeing and to understand if the service is reaching different groups who might benefit from support. We will interview people using the service to understand their experience of receiving support and how the service may have influenced their health and wellbeing. We will also interview staff involved in delivering the service and from other organisations (e.g. mental health services) who refer clients to the service.
Kent County Council
Citizens Advice North and West Kent
Citizens Advice head office
PHIRST LiLaC team*
Benjamin Barr, Liverpool University
Emma Coombes, Liverpool University
Emma Halliday, Lancaster University
Timothy Wilson, Public collaborator, PHIRST LiLaC
*All PHIRST LiLaC members input into every project