Why Does Research Matter? MQ Mental Health Research asks…

On 5 July, MQ Mental Health Research celebrates Research Appreciation Day – a day to recognise why research matters. There is no one better to explain the importance of research than some of our MQ 2022 Fellows currently all researching studies as part of our funding programme.

We asked them – why does research matter?

“Research Matters Because… Research is for everyone. All of us benefit from research.” – Dr Massimiliano Orri, McGill University / Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Canada

Research is the demonstration that, as a society, we are optimistic that our world can change for the better in the future.

Research is for everyone – all of us benefit from research.

Research is also an altruistic act – other people or future generations will more likely benefit from research advancements than researchers themselves.

It is important that people become interested in research to understand the viewpoint and work of researchers, and to know that every small effort will eventually contribute to our flourishing as a society.

 “Research Matters Because… of all the incredible possibilities for positive change.” Dr Marisa E. Marraccini, University of North Carolina, USA

My two favourite parts of a study are firstly, the beginning – imagining all the incredible possibilities for making positive changes – dreaming super big.

And secondly, getting to connect with teens in pursuit of these dreams – learning what they think about the ideas, trying to understand their experiences, and collaborating to make the ideas better and more relatable.

 “Research Matters Because… it leads to actual change for people.” Dr Amy Ronaldson, King’s College London, UK

{Research involves} creativity, discovery, and impact.

Although research involves structure and rigorous methodology, it is also a very creative process. As researchers, we get to be creative around (a) the questions we ask, (b) how we answer them, (c) and how we present these findings.

In terms of ‘discovery’, this is essentially what research is – we seek to discover, and this is incredibly exciting and rewarding.

As for ‘impact’, seeing the findings of your research work lead to actual change for people (e.g. raising awareness, health policy change) is what it’s all about really.

“Research Matters Because… it increases knowledge and understanding”Dr Moritz Herle, Kings College London, UK

Eating disorders remain some of the least understood psychiatric illnesses, and we still know little about why some people are more vulnerable for developing an eating disorder and which treatments work best.

Similarly, people with lived experience of eating disorders are often affected by other psychiatric illnesses such as depression and anxiety, as well as self-harm. This lack of knowledge also leads to misunderstanding and stigmatisation of people with lived experience of an eating disorder, making matters worse.

That’s why research matters so much because it will allow us to grow our knowledge and hopefully lead to improvements in our understanding and support for people with eating disorders.

“Research Matters Because… research creates solutions”Dr Leslie Johnson, Emory University, USA

I do a lot of qualitative and community-based research, so my favourite part of any study is actually getting to meet with people who are affected by the issues we are working to address and to have their voice represented in the solutions we seek to implement.

We, as researchers, can create acceptable and sustainable solutions that meet both patient and provider needs.

“Research Matters Because… it moves us towards truth, leading to the greater public good.” – Dr Suhas Ganesh, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), India

Methods in science are not perfect, but research includes the best tools at our disposal for moving towards truth.

Research involves rigorous application of this scientific method. And the outcomes of scientific discovery have the greatest chance of leading to greatest public good.

While these are open to refinement, at any given moment these have the best chance of better understanding of the world around us.

Read more about Research Appreciation Day.

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