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Local Authority Insights Survey

Mental Health and Connecting with Others

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) would like to better understand how experiences of mental ill health can affect people’s ability to connect with others and have asked the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to carry out research exploring this.

Who is carrying out the research?

This research is being carried out by NatCen on behalf of DCMS. NatCen is an independent, not-for-profit social research organisation that has been carrying out high quality social research for over 50 years. We are commissioned by government and charities to uncover the real views and experiences of people in Britain today. What we find out is used to inform policy and make a difference to the lives of people across the nation.

Why have I been selected to take part?

You have been invited to take part as you have indicated that you had experiences with mental health conditions and that you would be willing to take part in research. We are interested in understanding how your experiences relate to connecting with other people.

You have been invited either as a member of the NatCen Panel or because you said you were interested in taking part in research to Propeller Research.

Why take part?

This is an important piece of research that will help policy-makers understand some of the factors that can make it harder for people to feel connected to others. We are really keen to hear from you for this important project.

What will taking part involve?

You can choose to either take part in an interview only or you can take part by completing an online diary and follow-up interview.

Interview only

Taking part will involve participating in an interview at a time convenient for you between February and March 2022. The interview will last up to 90 minutes and will be conducted by a NatCen researcher. The interview will take place either by telephone or video call, whichever you prefer. You will receive a £40 Love2Shop voucher as a thank you for taking part.  

In the interview you will share your experiences with mental health issues and how this has affected your ability to connect with other people in your life. We’re interested in exploring how this may have changed over time and whether it’s been affected by different events in your life. Sharing this will help us get a real understanding of your experiences and how they link with each other.

Online diary and follow-up interview

Taking part will involve completing five digital diary entries on an online diary over two weeks between the 21st February and the 6th March. At the end of these two weeks, you will then take part in an interview with a researcher who will discuss the content of the diary entries. We will send you an email with a link to log into the diary platform.

What should go in the diary entries?

In these diary entries you will reflect on how you felt that day, the experiences you had with your mental health and how connected to others you felt. We’re interested in hearing about whether how you feel changes over the course of a day and over the two weeks, and we’ll ask you to consider how different things and events in your life affect the way you feel. These diary entries will really help us to better understand your experiences.

You can decide which days you choose to make diary entries,  and how much information to include. 

Who will see the diary?

The diary is your space for personal reflection. However, keep in mind that what you include in these diaries will be seen by the research team, so don’t write anything you do not want the team to see. Only the research team will be able to see what you have written.

How long with the diary take?

We expect that each diary entry will take between 10-20 minutes to complete, but how much time you spend on this is completely up to you.

What not to include in the diary entries

Whilst it’s completely up to you what you include in the diary entries, please don’t include:

  • No photographs of other people without their consent
  • No photographs of yourself or personal information about you (such as your address) if you wish to be anonymous

Do I get anything for completing the diary?

As a thank you for your time and contribution, you will receive a £60 voucher for completing five diary entries at the end of the two-week period.

What happens after the diary?

After the two-week period of completing diary entries, you will then take part in an interview, where you will tell us a bit more about your digital diary entries. This interview will be arranged for a date and time that is convenient for you in March 2022. The interview will last up to 90 minutes and will be conducted by a NatCen researcher. The interview will take place either by telephone or video call, whichever you prefer. You will receive an additional £40 voucher as a thank you for taking part in the interview.

What will happen to any information I give?

The data collected will only be used for research purposes. We will not pass on your name to DCMS or anyone else. Everything you include in the digital diaries and say in the interview is confidential, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means we will not tell anyone, including DCMS, what you personally have said or that you have taken part in the study.

The only exception to this is if you talk about something which represents a significant risk of harm to yourself or somebody else. In that case, we will have to tell someone else at our workplace who will decide if we need to tell anyone else. We will always try to discuss this with you first.

We will use the information from both the diaries and interview to write a report for DCMS. This report will be about the relationship between people’s experiences with mental health and connections with others. In the report, we will not include any names and it will not be possible to identify any participants.


With your permission, we will audio-record the interview so that nothing you say is forgotten. The recorder is encrypted and the recording will be stored securely on NatCen's computer system in line with data protection legislation. Only the research team will have access to the recordings and the data will be securely deleted after 12 months of the study being completed. 


All the data in the diary will be permanently deleted from NatCen’s servers once the diary is complete. We will securely delete all the data that has been downloaded within 12 months of the project finishing. We might want to include some of the diary entries in the report that we write. After the interview, we will check with you whether you would be happy for specific diary entries to be included in the report or not.

Contact us

If you have any further questions, please contact the research team by email or call free us on 0800 652 0501.

Privacy notice

For more information on how NatCen will handle your personal information, please refer to the privacy notice.