Dr Sarah Carr BA (Hons), MA, PGCert, PhD, FRSA

Dr Sarah Carr

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Senior Fellow in Mental Health Policy
Academic Lead for Involvement, Institute for Mental Health

Contact details

52 Pritchatts Road
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Sarah Carr is an academic with a particular interest in service user and survivor knowledge and research. She has personal experience of mental distress and mental health service use and uses this to inform all her work.


  • PhD: ‘An exploration of personalisation reforms, service user participation and diversity strategies in adult social care and mental health in England’, School of Health and Social Science, Middlesex University London
  • PG Cert Research Methods for Social Science and Health, King’s College London
  • Diploma Social Policy, Birkbeck College, University of London
  • Master of Arts Theology, University of Manchester
  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theology, University of Leeds


Sarah originally studied Theology at the Universities of Leeds and Manchester. Prior to taking up the post of Senior Fellow at Birmingham, Sarah was an Associate Professor of Mental Health Research at Middlesex University London. Before transferring to the academic sector she was a Senior Research Analyst at the Social Care Institute for Excellence where she led on a five-year Department of Health and Social Care personalisation policy implementation programme.

Sarah is active in the mental health service user and survivor movement in England, particularly around research and policy. She has co-edited two books on service user participation in research and policy with Professor Peter Beresford, Essex University.


Lead, Mental Health MSc Service User and Carer Involvement Module

MA in Social Research/Doctoral Training

BA2 Social Work Research for Evidence Informed Practice Module

Postgraduate supervision

  • Service user and survivor knowledge, research and participation
  • Mental health peer support
  • Psychosocial disability
  • Mental health social care
  • Voluntary and community sector mental health support provision
  • Mental health and lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) populations


  • Service user and survivor knowledge, research and participation
  • Co-production in mental health
  • Mental health peer support
  • Disability and psychosocial disability
  • Mental health social care and social policy
  • Voluntary and community sector mental health support provision
  • Mental health and lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) populations
  • The history of psychiatry and sexuality

Other activities

Sarah is a member of the editorial boards of Disability and Society and The Lancet Psychiatry. She is a National Institute for Health Research, School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR) Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Sarah is an independent expert advisor for the Wellcome Trust Mental Health Programme and a contributor to the UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab.

Sarah was formerly Chair of the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and regularly writes research blogs for the Mental Elf and blogs for Mad in America.

Sarah was Principal Investigator for the first NIHR SSCR funded service user-led study. The research explored mental health service user perspectives on targeted violence and abuse in the context of adult safeguarding in England. While at Middlesex University London she was Co-Director at The Centre for Co-production in Mental Health and Chair of the Service User and Carer Reference Group for the Think Ahead mental health social work programme.

She is currently the PPI lead for the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit and for the UKRI Loneliness, Social Isolation and Mental Health Network. She is a co-applicant on the ‘Open Dialogue: Development and Evaluation of a Social Network Intervention for Severe Mental IIlness (ODDESSI)’ study, the first trial of Open Dialogue in the NHS in England and a member of the Expert Advisers Panel for the NICE Centre for Guidelines.

Sarah is Principal Investigator for an NIHR SSCR funded, user-controlled study on avoidable harm in adult mental health social care.


Peer reviewed journal papers since 2015

Williams, O., Sarre, S., Papoulias, S.C., Knowles, S., Robert, G., Beresford, P., Rose, D., Carr, S., Kaur, M. & Palmer, V. (2020) Lost in the shadows: reflections on the dark side of co-production Health Research Policy and Systems 18 (1) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12961-020-00558-0 (Open Access)

Carr, S. (2020) ‘AI gone mental’: engagement and ethics in data-driven technology for mental health Journal of Mental Health 29 (2) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09638237.2020.1714011 (Open Access)

Carr, S., Hafford-Letchfield, T., Faulkner, A., Megele, C., Gould, D., Khisa, C., Cohen, R. & Holley, J.(2019) “Keeping Control”: A user‐led exploratory study of mental health service user experiences of targeted violence and abuse in the context of adult safeguarding in England Health and Social Care in the Community First published online 30 June 2019 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12806 (Open Access)

Faulkner, A., Carr, S., Gould, D., Khisa, C., Hafford-Letchfield, T., Megele, C., Cohen, R. & Holley, J. (2019) ‘Dignity and respect’: An example of service user leadership and co‐production in mental health research Health Expectations First published online 26 September 2019 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.12963 (Open Access)

Sweeney, A., Clement, S., Gribble, K., Jackson, E., Carr, S., Catty, J. & Gillard, S. (2019) A systematic review of qualitative studies of adults’ experiences of being assessed for psychological therapies Health Expectations 22 (166) pp.133-148 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hex.12844 (Open Access)

Carr, S. (2019) ‘I am not your nutter’: a personal reflection on commodification and comradeship in service user and survivor research Disability and Society Published online 17 May 2019 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2019.1608424

Carr, S. & Spandler, H. (2019) Hidden from history? A brief modern history of the psychiatric “treatment” of lesbian and bisexual women in England The Lancet Psychiatry Published online: February 11 2019 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30059-8 (Open Access)

Rose, D., Carr, S., & Beresford, P. (2018) ‘Widening cross-disciplinary research for mental health’: What’s missing from the UK Research Councils mental health agenda? Disability and Society 33 (3) pp.476-481 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2018.1423907 (Open Access)

Carr, S., Holley, J., Hafford-Letchfield, T., Faulkner, A., Gould, D., Khisa, C. & Megele, C. (2017) Mental health service user experiences of targeted violence and hostility and help-seeking in the UK: a scoping review Global Mental Health 11 (4): e25. doi: 10.1017/gmh.2017.22. eCollection 2017 (Open Access)

Carr, S. & Pezzella, A. (2017) Sickness, ‘sin’ and discrimination: Some contemporary challenges for UK mental health nursing practice with lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people and communities Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 24 (7) pp.553-560 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jpm.12402


Needham, C. & Carr, S. (2015) Micro-provision of social care support for marginalised communities: filling the gap or building bridges to the mainstream? Social Policy and Administration 49 (7) pp.824-841 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12114 (Open Access)


Reports and monographs since 2015

Carr, S. (2019) Mapping a complex landscape: A literature review of mental health care and support, 2014-2017 Birmingham: University of Birmingham Available at: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/social-policy/HSMC/publications/2019/mapping-a-complex-landscape.pdf

Carr, S., Beresford, P. & Coldham, T. (2017) Assisted Dying: Developing the debate. Exploring the issue of assisted dying and its legislation in the UK York/London: Joseph Rowntree Foundation/Shaping Our Lives Available at: https://www.shapingourlives.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Assisted-Dying-Consultation-Project-PDF.pdf

Carr, S. (2016) Position paper: Are mainstream mental health services ready to progress transformative coproduction? Bath: National Development Team for Inclusion Available at: https://www.ndti.org.uk/uploads/files/MH_Coproduction_position_paper.pdf

Carr, S. & Patel, M. (2016) Practical guide: Progressing transformative co-production in mental health Bath: National Development Team for Inclusion Available at: https://www.ndti.org.uk/uploads/files/MH_Coproduction_guide.pdf

Allen, R., Carr, S., Linde, K. & Sewell, H. (2016) Making the difference together: guidance on gathering and using feedback about the experience of social work from people who use services and their carers London: Department of Health Available at: https://www.basw.co.uk/system/files/resources/basw_12856-8_0.pdf

Webber M., Scott C., Carr, S. & Coldham, T. (2015) Evaluation of Mental Effectiveness Training for people with experience of using mental health services York: University of York Available at: https://www.york.ac.uk/media/spsw/documents/cmhsr/MET.pdf


Beresford, P. & Carr, S. (eds.) (2018) Social policy first hand: An international introduction to participative social welfare Bristol: Policy Press

Beresford, P. & Carr, S. (eds.) (2012) Research highlights in social work 55: Social Care, Service Users and User Involvement London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

View all publications in research portal