Participatory Action Research, Mental Health Service User Research, and the Hearing (our) Voices Projects
In this article I discuss participatory action research as a framework for enabling people diagnosed with mental health problems to carry out research and in doing so to promote health equity, citizenship, and social justice for people with a mental health diagnosis. The participatory approach to research aims to involve ordinary community members in generating practical knowledge about issues and problems of concern to them and through this promoting personal and social change. The article traces the development of participatory action research and describes its application in the mental health service user research movement. The Hearing (our) Voices projects, participatory research projects carried out in Calgary, Alberta by a group of people diagnosed with schizophrenia, are described to illustrate this approach to mental health research. Participation in research to promote health equity is about inclusion and about how marginalized people can claim full and equal citizenship as participants in and contributors to society.