Helen Walker

Helen Walker

Dr, Senior Lecturer Mental Health

Accepting PhD Students


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

I have been involved in a variety of research projects over the last twenty years, some local, national and one international. The majority of my recent research (although not exclusively) has been linked to forensic  mental health serivces. One of the recent non-forensic projects was a mixed method design using survey and focus groups to establish the needs of service users with sensory impairment in North and South lanarkshire in collaboration with the two Councils. I led a multi-site Randomised Controlled Trial across four forensic services as part of my PhD studies to evaluate the effectiveness of a psycho-education programme 'Coping With Mental Illness'. I have been involved in a number of national cross-sectional studies and surveys over the past few years, one to assess the effectiveness of the nursing tool Behavioural Status Index and another to establish the use and impact of Clinical Supervision. I also completed a project in 2016 designed to explore the use of seclusion, time out and use of emergency response belts in The State Hospital. The international study was designed to cross validate the Behavioural Status Index against other risk assessment tools. In earlier years I was involved in a few prevalence surveys and needs assessments, designed to capture the number and needs of people with psychosis in particular Health Boards (Lanarkshire and Scittish Borders).   

Current research activities


Dr Adam Polnay (Consultant Psychotherapist at The State Hospital) and I developed a questionnaire that will assess the effectiveness of reflective practice groups - The Relational Aspects of CarE scale TRACE. This project was completed in 2018. Findings were presented at the Royal College of Psychiatry Forensic Faculty conference in Vienna (March 2019) and at the International Association for Forensic Mental Health Services conference in Montreal (June 2019). A paper will be submitted for publication in 2021. Funding has been secured from TSH to extend the use of TRACE and measure impact of Reflective Practice Groups as they emerge across the Forensic Network between 2021-2023.

A new collaborative project is underway between The State Hospital (high secure Scotland), Rowanbank, Rohallion, Orchard Clinic (medium secure Scotland) and Shannon Clinic (medium secure Northern Ireland). The policies and process of managing serious and violent behaviour across one high and four medium secure services will be reviewed, from staff, patient and carer perspectives. Finance has been secured from The State Hospital to undertake this project.

Another project designed to measure the effectiveness of one of the suite of New to Forensic programmes commenced in the Autumn of 2019 ( New to Forensic Essentials of Psychological Care). This project is due for completion in 2021.

Other areas of expertise available for knowledge exchange

I have worked in forensic mental health services for the past twenty years, prior to this in community mental health teams and acute mental health wards. Recent activity in the Forensic Network has focussed on policy and practice development in addition to service development. I have been heavily involved in the creation of educational resources for staff at all levels over the past ten years, in particular: the suite of five practice based New to Forensic programmes; Short Forensic Module at New College Lanarkshire; Graduate Certificate in Personality Disorder at UWS and MSc Forensic Mental Health, formerly at GCU, currently at UWS.

Desired research direction

I am keen to engage with partners from other countries to explore current practice in forensic mental health services and associated outcome measures.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Secretary , International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services

28 Jun 201928 Jun 2022

External Examiner, Buckinghamshire New University

1 Sept 20169 Sept 2022

Board Member, Scottish Police Care Network


Consultant Nurse, Forensic Network

1 Feb 20122021

Board Member, Forensic Mental Health Managed Care Network



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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or