Great Mental Health in Haringey – process evaluation of Community Protect

Evaluation Completed November 2023

Evaluation Report

What does the research mean for Local Authorities?

This unique opportunity provides a better understanding of how community engagement programmes operate in practice and identifies important challenges or enablers. It offers useful learning for similar programmes of work and suggested improvements will be implemented in the recommissioned Community Protect programme in Haringey. Improvements in service delivery will ultimately enhance the experience and support received by Haringey residents.

Publication of the research findings will add to the limited evidence base on community mental health interventions and will be of interest to commissioners and decision-makers, presenting insight to inform future initiatives, the allocation of resources and in setting local priorities.

What does the research evaluation mean for the Public?

Small community organisations often play a key mental health support role for groups experiencing inequalities. Our evaluation will help understand how this support can be maximised, so mental health is improved, and inequalities reduced. In particular, our findings will explore how such organisations might reduce social isolation and digital exclusion, which are linked to poorer mental health and difficulty accessing support. Our findings will also help understand the best ways in which to create partnership working between Local Authority Public Health teams and small, grassroots organisations. This is important to ensure the work conducted by such organisations continues to be supported.

How are the public involved in the evaluation?

Community Protect implemented a person-centred approach, tailoring resources and activities to meet the needs of Haringey’s residents. Community ambassadors worked with the public to understand the needs of local communities in the most deprived parts of Haringey.  The public were integral in designing and delivering a range of programmes in those communities where the prevalence of mental health issues including loneliness and social isolation had increased during the pandemic. This process helped to understand the cultural needs of particular communities and to support residents in connecting with one another. Collaborative celebrations to mark Women’s History Month in March, co-created Mental Health Ambassador training and co-designed craft workshops are examples of the many events requested and delivered by residents.

We discussed our study plan and data collection tools with the grassroots organisations involved, to ensure our findings would have relevance to they and the populations with whom them work. We will present and discuss emerging findings with local citizens, inviting feedback regarding the implications of our findings, and recommendations for future mental health support.

Lay summary of research

Great Mental Health in Haringey is a suite of seven prevention and promotion programmes, designed to lessen the mental health impacts arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and to reduce widening mental health inequalities. One of the programmes, Community Protect, aims to improve and maintain the mental health and wellbeing of seven target populations within the London Borough of Haringey: those who belong to a minority ethnic group, those whose first language is not English, low-income households, older people, people with autism or learning disabilities, homeless and rough sleepers, young people not in education, employment or training.

Three commissioned core partners are working with six grass roots organisations, who have links to these populations. These organisations will recruit volunteer community mental health ambassadors, who will receive Mental Health First Aid training. The ambassadors will then support delivery of social events and activities, information provision relating to mental health support and digital education to groups they work with.

This is a qualitative process evaluation of Community Protect. It aims to understand:   

  1. To what extent do members of the seven priority groups engage with the different elements of Community Protect (Community Mental Health Ambassadors, social events/activities, information provision and promotion of digital offers)?  
  2. What are the perceived experiences and outcomes for residents who take part in Community Protect?  
  3. What are the processes or pathways in which engagement with Community Protect leads to potentially beneficial outcomes relating to mental health and social connectedness?  
  4. What have been the barriers and facilitators to successful implementation of Community Protect? (This includes partnership working as well as the activities delivered).
  5. What are acceptable ways to monitor (quantitatively and/or qualitatively) uptake of Community Protect activities and outcomes for the seven priority groups?  

We will answer these questions through: i) interviews with local authority staff, core partners and grassroots delivery providers, ii) interviews with ambassadors, iii) observations of events and activities, iv) review of monitoring forms collected by the core partners, v) stakeholder learning events vi) a literature review of ways to monitor outcomes that are acceptable to the public.

PHIRST Insight Research Team

Dr Judi Kidger
Dr China Harrison
Naomi Leonard
Tricia Jessiman

External researcher: Berni Graham


Local Authority/Partner(s)

Haringey Council, Public Health




More information about Haringey’s wider Great Mental Health programme can be found on the Haringey Council website