Judith Drake photo 2023

Judith Drake

Judith is an independent lived experience advocate with a particular interest in the intersections between mental health, physical health, disability, emergency services, family violence and community.

She is currently involved with advisory groups at EACH Social and Community Health, Eastern Health, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare and the NDIA, as well as being a member of an Equally Well research project codesign group. She is also involved with advocacy through Mental Health Australia's National Register of Consumer and Carer Representatives and VMIAC's Consumer Register.


Title: Research with – not for – consumers: Reflections on co-designing a qualitative study on physical health for people with mental illness

Author(s): Tessa-May Zirnsak, Lyn English, Chris Maylea, Rosie Elwyn, Melanie Sherrin, Hazel Dalton, Russell Roberts, Judith Drake

Introduction: Research has shown that people diagnosed with mental illness are likely to die at an earlier age than people without a psychiatric diagnosis, highlighting serious health inequity. To address this inequality, Equally Well received funding from the federal government to create a resource to facilitate communication between clinicians and consumers of physical and mental health services.

Method: We used a co-design methodology to conduct the research. The authorship team understand co-design to be partnership with a group of people in the population that is being studied in the design and execution of research. A co-design group was recruited and met online regularly to collaborate on all components of the project. They were also engaged in conducting a literature review to inform the research.

Results & Findings: Results will be determined at the conclusion of the project.

Discussion: Co-design was tricky to establish and fragile to maintain, but the project was overall stronger as a result of researcher attempts to establish co-design. For co-design to work, researchers must be reflective and committed to changing their practice to enable co-design members to make real contributions to research. These contributions are valuable and help to promote efficacy of the research, while also upskilling co-design group members and researchers.