Interact - Kent and Medway Medical School

The INTERACT project is engaging with members of Kent communities around the future of mental healthcare and research.

Sikh man and woman being interviewed

Professor Lisa Dikomitis engaging with two members of the Sikh community during fieldwork.

The study is a partnership between researchers at the Centre for Health Services Studies,  Centre for Health and Medical Humanities and the Kent and Medway Medical School, working with key collaborators the Kent-wide community mental health trust, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT), and internationally renowned gallery Turner Contemporary.

The interdisciplinary INTERACT team is led by Professor Lisa Dikomitis, comprised of anthropologist (Dr Letizia Bonanno), historian of medicine (Mr Joseph Price), social researcher (Ms Glory Oluwaseun), psychiatrists (Dr Joanne Rodda, Prof Sukhi Shergill and Dr Derek Tracy), creative arts therapists (Ezme Lefeuvre and Kate Richardson) and media scholars (Dr Dieter Declercq and Ms Sam Holmans Thompson).


Drawing by Dr Letizia Bonnano

The INTERACT team will work with young people, new mothers, older adults, and members of ethnic minority communities to capture the lived experiences, perceptions and understandings of mental health and document their hopes and expectations for the future to improve mental health outcomes in Kent.

Drawing by Dr Letizia Bonanno

The public engagement activities will maximise the involvement of community members through their participation in creative workshops in an imaginative and collaborative exploration of the future NHS. The dialogue and insights from the creative workshops will then be reported through touring exhibitions, public talks, zines, podcasts, Tik-Tok videos, a policy brief, and a journal article.

Professor Lisa Dikomitis, Principal Investigator of INTERACT, says:

“I am delighted to work with members of several Kent communities hardly reached by researchers. We urgently need to embed these often-unheard perspectives in our research and innovation work in mental healthcare. As the NHS celebrates its 75th birthday it is crucial that we continue to innovate, not for, but with community members. Our anthropological and creative research aligns well with the KMMS ethos of putting the needs of local, underprivileged communities first and conduct interdisciplinary research to improve mental health outcomes in Kent.”

Dr Afifa Qazi, KMPT’s Chief Medical Officer added:

“We are delighted to partner in this important project. Each year across the UK around 1 in 4 people will experience mental ill health, and over recent years we have seen a rising and changing demand for our services. We must continually move forward and work closely with our partners to respond to this. Making sure we fully understand the needs of our diverse communities, and work in collaboration with them to co-produce a shared vision for mental healthcare, is a vital part of our pledge to help our communities live well and tackle health inequalities in Kent.”

Ms Clarrie Wallis, Director Turner Contemporary Margate stated:

“We are delighted to foster ongoing collaborations and establish fresh connections with researchers from the new Kent and Medway Medical School and the University of Kent, alongside psychiatrists adept at engaging the public on mental healthcare. As a creative organisation, we firmly believe in the significance of participating in innovative, transdisciplinary endeavours that not only shed light on problems and challenges but also uncover solutions.”

INTERACT is one of ten projects supported by a £348,000 investment from UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the NHS. All ten projects involve collaboration with new and diverse audiences whose voices are not often heard as part of national debates on health and social care. The aim is to help inform researchers, health practitioners, policymakers, and the public about the future of care.

For more information, please email Professor Lisa Dikomitis on and