CoP Process

A CoP is an effective tool to establish and maintain a research culture within a health center as they support clinicians and patients overcome the challenges of conducting research in mental health.  The philosophy, message, and presentation of the CoP should be guided by a steering team consisting of experienced staff from Community Mental Health Centers and one to three external advisors.

There are many ways to build and grow a CoP, the following is one method, which has been adapted to the needs, preferred timelines, and culture of the community being developed.


Task 1. Situation Analysis: Months 0 – 3

The first step is to form a working group that includes representatives from CMHCs and one to three external advisors.

Using a mixed methods approach, a scoping exercise will evaluate what resources to support research in CMHCs exist both within health centers and externally. Ideally the external resources should be free and open access. Useful resources include current information on treatments, diagnostics and current research, guidance documents and useful resources. The working group can also seek out information from other organizations they work with, asking for resources that can be shared.

This will lead to a repository of the information that exists and help us learn where the gaps are.

The CoP team should spend time with at least two CMHCs to understand the challenges faced by CMHCs in their daily operations and their concerns and hopes for the CoP.

The working group can also decide what functions, features and applications are required on the CoP.  For example: Tools & Resources, Training and Capacity Development, Community Areas, library of previous webinars or workshops that were given.

Another decision to be made at this point is whether the CoP is open to all or only available to members, as this will determine what internal or proprietary resources are made available.


Task 2. Design and initial version of the Community of Practice: Months 4 – 7

The initial working group becomes the overall steering committee. Two or three working groups are proposed to address some of the gaps and needs identified in the situation analysis.

The CoP website will be built, bringing together the CMHCs Community of Practice in research. It will be easy to navigate and provide a growing set of resources. This will be developed and presented within a strong information architecture, to allow the users to easily find and navigate this ‘one-stop-shop’. It should enable working groups easily fill the gaps that they identify and provide access to all the other information that accumulates through the scoping exercise in task 1 and through continuous use.

Monitoring and Evaluation and Continuous Improvement processes should be part of task 2 and implemented before the CoP is launched. This will ensure the CoP remains current and relevant and the quality of presentations, communications and engagement continuously improve.

Next – Implementation

A Community of Practice (CoP)
can help create a culture of learning and collaboration that supports ongoing professional development, innovation, and the provision of high-quality care to patients. In this case, the CoP would include outside researchers, so that members can learn from one another and stay up-to-date with the latest research and information on mental health treatments.

If you are interested in joining our CoP, please fill out the form below or contact us at