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Helen Walker

Dr, Senior Lecturer Mental Health


Research output per year

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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 last year 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


I have been working with Dr Adam Polnay (Consultant Psychotherapist at The State Hospital) to develop a questionnaire that will assess the effectiveness of reflective practice groups. This one year project is near to completion. I presented findings at the recent Royal College of Psychiatry Forensic Faculty conference in Vienna (March 2019). A paper will be submitted for publication later this year. An abstract has also been accepted for the International Association for Forensic Mental Health Services conference in Montreal - June 2019.

Under development

In collaboration with the Manager and Director of the Forensic Network a team from UWS are aiming to submit a proposal to evaluate the use of Electronic Monitoring with mentally disordered offenders. This is wholly depependent upon the decision by Scottish Government to accept or reject the recommendations made by the Forensic Network Short Life Working Group - submitted May 2018.

A new collaborative project is under development 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.

Ethics approval is currenly being sought (July 2019)

Another project designed to measure the effectiveness of one of the suite of new to Forensic programmes will commence in the Autumn of 2019 ( New to Forensic Essentials of Psychological Care). Funding has been secured and approval has been given to go ahead with this project.

Other areas of expertise available for knowledge exchange

I have worked in forensic mental health services for the past seventeen 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.

External positions

Secretary , International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services

28 Jun 201928 Jun 2022

External Examiner, Buckinghamshire New University

1 Sep 20169 Sep 2022

Consultant Nurse, Forensic Network

1 Feb 20122019

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Research Output

A multi-site survey of forensic nursing assessment

Walker, H., Tulloch, L., Boa, K., Ritchie, G. & Thomson, J., 13 May 2019, In : Journal of Forensic Practice. 21, 2, p. 124-138 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 216 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 83 Downloads (Pure)

    Experience focussed counselling with voice hearers: towards a trans-diagnostic key to understanding past and current distress. A thematic enquiry

    Schnackenberg, J., Fleming, M., Walker, H. & Martin, C. R., 30 Apr 2018, In : Community Mental Health Journal. p. 1-11

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    133 Downloads (Pure)

    Promoting health

    Lobo, C., Evans, D. & Walker, H., Jun 2018, Essentials of Nursing Practice: 2nd Edition. Delves-Yates, C. (ed.). 2nd ed. SAGE Publications, p. 315-334 20 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    The Person with Depression

    Walker, H., Fleming, M. & Gillespie, M., May 2018, Art and Science. Norman, I. & Ryrie, I. (eds.). 4 ed.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Prizes

    Best article in journal issue

    Helen Walker (Recipient), 26 May 2017

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


    Employee Engagement and Stakeholder Involvement

    Helen Walker (Recipient), 6 Dec 2014

    Prize: National/international honour

  • Finalist

    Helen Walker (Recipient), 2015

    Prize: Other distinction

  • Activities