Research into Recovery and Wellbeing

A website about the work of the recovery research team at the Institute of Mental Health

The University of Nottingham

The NEON Collection

What is the NEON Collection?

The NEON Collection contains stories of recovery from mental health problems. It includes stories that have previously been published by others (e.g. in pamphlets, books or on-line), stories that have been donated to the NEON study, and stories that have been collected by researchers working on the NEON study. 

How many stories are in the NEON Collection?

As of 9th June 2020, there are 411 stories in the NEON Collection. A further 48 stories are currently being considered. 90 stories that have been offered to us have not been included due to not matching our inclusion and exclusion criteria - for example, stories which are not about the person's own lived experience.

How will people access the NEON Collection?

Stories in the NEON Collection will be made available through the NEON Intervention, a set of interactive webpages which are accessed through a web-browser or smartphone. The NEON Intervention allows a user to browse for stories using some of the characteristics defined in the Inventory of Recovery Narrative Characteristics (INCRESE), which has been developed by the NEON study. The NEON Intervention can also recommend a story with characteristics that might be expected to help the user. A small number of stories in the collection will also be integrated into material used in the training of mental health staff– e.g. in staff induction programmes, or other forms of professional development. This might involve stories appearing in presentations or printed material. 

Who is supporting us?

Some of our stories have been provided by the following collections, who have also helped us to understand how to build the NEON Collection: 

Recovery Devon (producers of Beyond the Storms and Riding the Storms)

Scottish Recovery Network

Schizophrenia Oral History project

What types of story can be included?

Stories in the NEON Collection can only be included if they all of the following requirements:


1. The story includes elements of adversity or struggle that relate to mental health problems, broadly defined

2. The story includes descriptions of strength, success or survival, as defined by the narrator or identifiable by a third-party

3. The story must refer to events or actions over a period of time. "Events" can include external events or mental events (e.g. changes in mood or perception)

4. The story must be told by a single individual with experience of mental health problems and recovery.  

5. Where language is used, the story is mainly in English, or if translated the translation needs to be provided or approved by the narrator


6. Either (a) the story is provided in a digital file OR (b) the story is provided in a format which can be easily be converted into a digital file OR (c) the story is hosted on an existing web-page, the URL to the web-page is permanent, and the page does not contain links that would enable navigation to another page.

A story is included in the NEON Collection once a NEON researcher has characterised it using INCRESE (to allow their integration into the NEON Intervention) and once five items in INCRESE that relate to potentially-distressing content have been double-checked by a second NEON researcher. 

How will we collect consent for inclusion of recovery stories?

If a story has been donated to NEON by an individual, then we will collect consent through an online form, as described below.

We will accept donations of stories from existing collections, but only if (a) the owners of the collection have collected consent from their donors which is broad enough to allow for re-use in the NEON Collection, OR (b) individual narrators are approached by the owners and give this consent. 

Are there any recovery stories that will not be included?

We do not include stories in the NEON Collection:

1. that are presented as fictional

2. that are told by anyone other than the individual experiencing mental health problems and recovery, e.g. the story is told by a carer or journalist

3. which indicate that the narrator has engaged in an undisclosed serious criminal activity

4. which make reference to an identifiable third party in a negative or defamatory way, unless the third party is no longer alive

5. (for video and audio stories) where the quality of recording is so low that the story is very difficult or not possible to understand

6. which include sensitive personal information about individual third parties, unless the third party has already made this information public, e.g. by publishing their own recovery story, or unless the third party is no longer alive.

Sensitive personal information is defined as in GDPR, e.g. information relating to the racial or ethnic origin of the third party, their political or religious beliefs, physical or mental health conditions, sexual orientation or behaviour, and any offences committed or alleged to have been committed by them.

7. if there are any other reasons which raise concerns, e.g. the primary purpose of the story is to advertise a product, or the story contains hate speech or obscene material

8. where the story is split across multiple files or modalities or uses a multimedia approach which cannot easily be integrated into a single story

How will inclusion and exclusion be decided?

Stories will be included if they meet all of the inclusion criteria, if we have valid consent, and if they meet none of the exclusion criteria.

In the first instance, the NEON team will decide inclusion and exclusion for stories offered to the collection. We will have a bias towards inclusion.

In cases where it is uncertain whether a story should be included or excluded, the NEON team will consult with the NEON Collection Steering Group, who meet quarterly, but who can consider stories outside of these meetings. This group currently includes four members from our Lived Experience Advisory Panel and two members of the NEON research team. The Collection Steering Group will make the final decision about whether stories should be included or not. The exception is stories that might be excluded for legal reasons under criteria 6. Here, the NEON study team will make the final decision, with legal advice where relevant. Source collections or individual narrators will be informed of those stories that we have decided to exclude, and can appeal to have a decision changed.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria will be updated on this web-page based on evolving experience, so this page always represents our current understanding of what stories we will include and exclude.

My organisation has collected recovery stories – why should I work with NEON?

NEON will provide a route to using recovery stories for the benefit of people experiencing mental health difficulties. We will also produce study outputs, such as best practice guides for recovery story curation, that will benefit all organisations who work with recovery stories. We are particularly interested in hearing from organisations who would like to offer recovery stories for use in the NEON Intervention, or who can help us understand how to use recovery stories for the benefit of people experiencing mental health problems.

NEON is a large and internationally-visible research study, and we will actively acknowledge contributions from existing collections. The source of any stories used in the NEON Collection will be acknowledged whenever used, along with a link to your website. Working with NEON will draw attention to your own work.

Stories hosted directly within the NEON Collection will be held safely and securely, and backed up to secure servers. Replicating material in this way might provide benefits to smaller organisations, as an extra layer of safety for the valuable material that has been collected. If you do not wish us to host your material, then we can link to it externally

If you are an organisation who has produced a collection of recovery stories, and would like to collaborate with NEON, then please get in touch, using the contact details at the end of this webpage. 

Can I donate my own story to the NEON Collection?

Yes, we will be accepting donations of stories up until the end of the study. 

Please see here > for further information and to donate.

Can I ask for someone's story to be withdrawn from the NEON Collection?

If you are concerned about a story in the NEON Collection, for example if you believe that the person offering the story did not have capacity to consent, then please contact us using this form. Third parties do not have an absolute right to request withdrawal to protect the rights of narrators. Each third-party request will be considered sensitively using processes agreed with our study sponsor and an NHS ethics committee.

A story in the NEON Collection breaches my copyright

If you believe that a story breaches your copyright, then please contact us using this form.

Who has oversight of the NEON Collection?

Our study sponsor, Nottinghamshire NHS Foundation Trust, is overseeing the process of managing the NEON Collection. They can be contacted through

The processes for managing the NEON Collection have been submitted and given favourable opinion by the West London & GTAC Research Ethics Committee (reference 18/LO/0991), and by the UK Health Research Authority (reference 247343). 

How can I contact NEON?

By emailing