Global forensic mental health research award

The University of Huddersfield’s Professor Michael Doyle says he is “honoured and humbled” after being given a prestigious global award for his work in forensic mental health research.

Michael, Professor in Mental Health Research, was given the Rüdiger Müller-Isberner award for 2022 by the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services (IAFMHS) at their recent annual conference held in Berlin.

The award is named after a key figure in the field, whose research into integrating research and practice in forensic mental health led to him being the first recipient of the award that now bears his name.

“Dr Rüdiger Müller-Isberner was one of the founding members of the IAFMHS in 1999,” says Professor Doyle. “He is recognised internationally as an academic researcher and practicing psychiatrist based in Germany. He has always been committed to applying research into clinical practice.

“I feel unworthy of this award but it is a real honour to be mentioned in the same breath as Rüdiger and the other recipients, who are international authorities in their area.”

Work around forensic mental health focusses on people who have encountered the criminal justice system having offended, often with violence, due to their mental disorder. Access to forensic mental health services is often through prisons, but also in high secure hospitals such as Broadmoor and Ashworth, medium and low secure services or on the community.

Professor Doyle began his career as a mental health nurse, and before arriving at Huddersfield in 2020 he had worked for the University of Manchester, Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

“Since coming to Huddersfield, I have been researching more generic mental health issues, suicide prevention and young people’s mental health,” Michael adds. “We also have a research project looking into giving GPS trackers to people with dementia to prevent them from getting lost if they wander.

“On the forensic side, I am looking at building on previous research to see how we make use of risk assessment guidelines in clinical practice. I have written an article published in 2021 on assets-based interventions in mental health services, which considers protective factors as assets that need cultivating to prevent violence. This includes managing stress, engagement with treatment, constructive employment and any professional support they receive and their living conditions.

“I was lucky enough to be president of the IAFHMS up until 2017, and I am incredibly grateful for their support. This award is the icing on the cake but there is plenty more research to be done that will filter down to our students here.”

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