“A Day in the Life” is a presentation of findings that emerged during the initial phase of this consumer-  driven research project.    The North Central Regional Mental Health Board (NCRMHB) initiated this  project to contribute to the statewide efforts to    transform Connecticut’s behavioral health services  system.  

The DVD provides:

o   an extraordinary glimpse into the lives of individuals who obtain services through the state’s present-day behavioral health system; 

o   a learning opportunity for persons in recovery and their family members, medical professionals, housing specialists, college students and faculty, and community and faith-based organizations. 

Buy the DVD:
 NCRMHB supported and funded the first year of the project that has culminated in the DVD production.  The DVD can be  viewed below or ordered through the NCRMHB. Additionally, arrangements can be  made for a member of the research project  team to lead a facilitated discussion following the showing of  the DVD presentation.  To place an order, please contact the  NCRMHB through Marcia DuFore by phone  at 860-667-6388 or by e-mail at info@ncrmhb.org.    

A video featuring the stories of those living with mental illness in Connecticut. 


A Day In The Life Project Team, 2013


Group Photo

Original Poster
Original participant research team was assembled in April 2007, and included Brian, Paul, Carol, Margaret, Mike, Jim, Selina, and Judith Shaw, Project Director. During the Spring 2010, 2 team members resigned and Catherine joined the team.  

 NCRMHB participant researchers completed the initial project activities including: the development of research goals,  research design and trainingactive research; and development and dissemination of initial findings.  

 Through the narrative analysis of 25 individuals’ accounts, initial research findings illuminate the participants’ daily life  experiences, their beliefs and perceptions and their accounts of their social interactions. Many partners, recognized in  the Acknowledgements, have collaborated with NCRMHB to make this research project possible.  NCRMHB completed  the final  phase of the project during June 2012.  

Research goals, research design and training
 The project, “A Day in the Life”, was initiated by NCRMHB.  The research design and training components were developed  under direction of Dr. Larry Davidson and the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH).  The Connecticut  Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) supported the project development. The team chose  a qualitative research design to achieve the following research goals: 
o describe the daily lives of individuals who receive DMHAS-funded services in the words of the individuals themselves and from their own perspectives;
o to identify the kinds of supports that individuals perceived to have harmed and benefited them
o to illuminate what people perceived they would purchase that may improve their lives

 Qualitative research is defined as “… research that aims to find out people's perceptions, beliefs and experiences 
 rather than information that can easily be shown in numbers.”* 

 As a qualitative research project, “A Day in the Live” was also consumer-driven participatory research:  all research  interviewers have had experiences utilizing mental health services and all individuals who participated in research  interviews    were then receiving DMHAS-funded rehabilitation services and/or treatment for mental illness and substance  use.  Before any  research activity was begun, participant researchers received extensive training through Yale PRCH on  qualitative research  methods.

 *(This definition was adapted from the online Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press, 05/11/12)

Through the training, project team members developed skills:

o to obtain informed consent for individuals to be voluntarily interviewed and taped;
o to conduct interviews with voluntary participants, following a guide of eight open-ended questions;
o to respond to participants' narratives with empathy and attentive listening skills;
o to develop analysis of individual narratives and to report on the findings.

 To build community interest in “A Day in the Life” project, Margaret Sirota designed the project logo and brochure.    Margaret Sirota and  Mike  McDermid, both research team members, created graphics for the poster to enhance future  presentations.

 Active research occurred in two phases: 

  • Phase One:  In the early stages of research activity, NCRMHB and its members:  

o   established important collaborations from a number of partners (mentioned below)
o   Identified host sites for interviews 
o   conducted site-specific recruitment of voluntary participants

 To collect qualitative data, the research interviewers:

o   conducted and taped a total of 71 interviews with participants
o   conducted 9 interviews with participatory researchers

 Participating individuals and interviewers made this research project possible.  As one-on-one interviews were conducted: 

o   participants received stipends for having participated in interviews;
o   individuals’ narratives were transcribed word-for-word in the tradition of oral history.

  • Phase Two:  In collaboration with Yale PRCH, participant researchers:

o   conducted narrative analysis of 25 of 80 interviews and developed themes as research findings; 
o   developed a live presentation which illustrated themes that emerged from data analysis;
o   unveiled the first live presentation during the NCRMHB Annual Dinner, 2008
o   added graphics to the poster that visually enhanced the presentation 
o   performed the live presentation during 17 separate events, reaching diverse audiences who included:

  • peers, friends and family members;
  • mental health agencies and clubhouses;
  • staff of statewide low-income statewide housing organizations;
  • university faculty and students;
  • community members;
  • Legislators.

 Feedback loops were created to provide opportunities for audience members to share their reactions to the live        presentations. “Take-away messages” appeared to vary by event, since each presentation was geared to a particular  audience.  

Development and dissemination of initial findings 

NCRMHB and partners collaborated to disseminate the findings in new ways:

o   A DVD of the live presentation was professionally produced and is now available.  
o   Two articles concerning “A Day in the Life” project were published, reaching national and international readers – see Psychiatry Interpersonal and Biological Processes, Vol. 73 Number 2, Summer 2010 and New England Psychologist, August/September 2010, Vol. 18 Number 7 "Project Gives Hope, Direction"; 
o   Public service announcements and news stories appeared in newspapers and on radio stations, local access community television, and church bulletins. 
o   Enfield public access television interviewed some of the project researchers and then broadcast the interview to local audiences.       
o   Live presentation was delivered at an international conference in Hong Kong (May 2011), sponsored by New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation of Hong Kong and China and by Yale PRCH.

Initial findings  

o   the pain and suffering, achievements and talents, dreams and disappointments, and the humanity and hopes of people who receive DMHAS-funded services; 
o   culturally accepted prejudicial notions about mental illness; 
o   experiences of systematic social exclusion described by some people with mental illness,.    

 In the decision to initiate this consumer-driven research project and to present findings in live and digitally recorded  formats, NCRMHB and the research team aimed to:

o   illuminate prejudice and stigma directed at individuals often marginalized by having mental illness; 
o   dispel myths about individuals with mental illness; 
o   impart new understandings of the lives of individuals with mental illness.
o stimulate change in attitudes and beliefs toward eliminating discrimination and stigma and improving the Connecticut behavioral health services system;
o  create a repository for life stories from some Connecticut residents who were obtaining mental health and substance use services during the early Twenty-first Century. 

Final phase of the project  

 Through the generous funding of DMHAS, NCRMHB renewed its work on the project in December 2011, with a final  completion date of June 2012.  Project researchers will conduct thematic analysis of the remaining 55 interviews, develop  findings and disseminate a reports of those findings.  



NCRMHB recognizes our many partners whose collaboration made possible the success of this project:

  • Volunteers who participated in research interviews
  • Participant researcher team members, also serving as proposal writers, whose continued involvement sustained the project across several years
  • Judith Shaw, NCRMHB, for project direction from 2007-2011
  • Margaret Sirota, Graphic Artist
  • Mike McDermid, Artist
  • Dr. Larry Davidson, Yale University Program for Recovery and Community Health
  • Trinity Episcopal Church, Wethersfield, CT for meeting room space used by team members during the five-year project
  • InterCommunity, Inc., and Community Health Resources, Inc. for their support
  • The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for funding support
  • The Connecticut Foundation for Mental Health for funding support

 For more information on the "A Day in The Life" Project, please contact NCRMHB. To place an order, please contact the  NCRMHB through Marcia DuFore by phone at 860-667-6388 or by e-mail at info@ncrmhb.org

Artwork by Margaret Sirota, Researcher

Artwork by Michael McDermid, Researcher