Avoidable harm in mental health social care (AHMHSoC) study

Sarah Carr In progress  


Avoidable harm refers to social and psychological harm in social care. It includes service users being poorly treated by social care services or staff in ways that could cause them to lose trust, feel unsafe or be afraid. It might disrupt their relationships or social activities or upset them by reminding them of distressing things that have happened to them in the past (often called ‘re-traumatisation’). The law says that these sorts of harm need not and should not happen.


The Avoidable Harm in Mental Health Social Care (AHMHSoC) Study is a user-led project exploring how mental health service users in England understand and experience social and psychological ‘avoidable harm’ in social care, and how to reduce this sort of harm in services.

The research team will work with mental health social care service users and practitioners to look at the evidence from research and from service users themselves.


This study has six parts:

  1. Exploring published research on service user experiences of avoidable harm in mental health social care and how it can be reduced
  2. Looking at blogs and reports written by service users about their experiences of the topic
  3. Drawing this material together and developing a model for understanding and reducing avoidable harm in mental health social care based on service user experiences
  4. Holding two focus groups of mental health social care service users to discuss and develop the model
  5. Running an online survey of mental health service users who have used social care recently to see if the model makes sense and what the most important parts are
  6. Bringing together an expert panel of practitioners to help design the model using the findings from the survey in part five.