Reflection: Research on self-management gratitude project with SAMH outreach groups

Champion Lindsay Gale has been running a pilot research project with SAMH outreach using gratitude as a self-management tool over the last month. The project aimed to find out the impact of using gratitude techniques such as journaling, letter writing and gifts on participants, both those attending the groups and the SAMH staff.

If you would like to learn more about gratitude workshops please contact us to discuss.

Project overview:

My work is based around gratitude. Research undertaken by top global universities has proved that people who use gratitude practices on a regular basis have better physical and mental health.

As a champion of the Wellbeing Hub I focused on the our values in delivering this project:

Focusing on strengths, not illness  – using journals to keep a record of things they are grateful for, things that feel good, make them smile, happy, content. This is using positive psychology, the more positive you feel the stronger you are of mind and body.

Using the power of personal experiences in inspiring and supporting recovery and wellbeing. – asking champions to come along and give talks on how their life experiences have helped in their recovery.

The power of partnerships between supporters and those in need of support – SAMH staff taking part in the research project, enabling conversations of change to happen between supporters and supported.

Tackling stigma, including self-stigma – using journals to encourage everyone to find things they are grateful for about themselves, to find their strengths and build on these to see a whole person not just an illness.

We also used gratitude gifts and letters of gratitude to include the wider community and give a sense of connection for participants.


Overall this research project was a very positive experience for all involved.

  • Not everyone wanted to do the activities but the ones who choose to got more from putting the effort in. Watching the videos on gratitude encouraged conversations.
  • Listening to people read from their journals and their gratitude letters helped the others in the group be more open.
  • For two hours each week focusing on what we are grateful for helped the groups energy be more positive which has helped with their mental health.

Selected participant reflections:

  • Participant noticed more positive things about themselves.
  • Participant changed a lot over the four weeks from looking very down and depressed to being open and having a laugh.
  • Participant’s gratitude letter was written in return to another member of the group. This was very beautiful to hear. Two friends came together and shared letters of how their friendship made a huge difference to their lives.
  • The small things in life gave one participant joy where they would not have noticed them if they hadn’t been on the programme.
  • SAMH carers enjoyed the process themselves and could see the difference the approach made to people’s lives and how people become more open and comfortable. They heard laughter in the group, which was unusual. They would be keen to see this approach in more groups in the future.