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UKRI investments, partnerships and networks

UKRI Mental Health Research Networks

Eight mental health networks have been set up by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address important mental health research questions.

The £8 million networks are funded by UKRI and the government’s modern industrial strategy for four years (one for three years). The networks embrace a collaborative ethos and bring together researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including technology, health, medicine, biology, social sciences, humanities and environmental sciences. Many of the networks also include insight from charity workers, health practitioners and people with lived experience of mental health problems.

Governance

The membership of the mental health networks networking and guidance group is:

  • Louise Arseneault (Chair), King’s College London
  • Jacob Diggle, Mind
  • Martin Halliwell, University of Leicester
  • Adrian Harwood, Cardiff University
  • Anna Jorgensen, University of Sheffield
  • Tom Kirkham, (Hartree) Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • Glyn Lewis, University College London
  • Andrew Steptoe, University College London
  • Chris Taylor, University of Manchester.

Professor Elaine Fox of the University of Oxford is the mental health networks’ Impact & Engagement Co-ordinator.

Professor Elaine Fox says:

The UKRI investment in funding eight mental health networks across the UK provides a unique opportunity to change the landscape of mental health, so that we can build a world in which mental health problems can be effectively treated and prevented. To achieve that ambition, we need to be disruptive in our thinking and challenge many of the assumptions that we have made.

I believe that it is essential to establish highly collaborative teams of funders and researchers, which bring together expertise from many disciplines and including, of course, expertise that comes from lived experience with mental health problems.

My role as national coordinator for the UKRI mental health networks is to work alongside the networks and to engage with other potential mental health research funders, in order to help raise the public profile, quality and innovativeness of mental health research in the UK.

To do this, I have brought together an exciting ‘coordination team’ drawn from the McPin Foundation, Mental Elf, Sixth Sense Media, and my own research group in Oxford, with the aim of working closely with the networks to develop a national campaign that will highlight why mental health research matters. In brief, my role has three key aims:

  • raising public awareness and increasing engagement with mental health research
  • facilitating the mental health networks to build collaborative, sustainable and multidisciplinary research environments
  • informing future national policy for mental health research in the UK.

Find out more about the UKRI mental health networks Impact & Engagement Co-ordinator (Mental Health Research Matters).

See a full list of the mental health networks below.

To enquire about applying directly to one or more networks for a grant from their research funds, please contact the relevant network(s) as set out below.

MARCH: social, cultural and community assets for mental health – ES/S002588/1

Led by: Dr Daisy Fancourt, University College London (with six co-investigators)
Email: d.fancourt@ucl.ac.uk

Network coordinator: Ms Vas James
Email: vas.james@ucl.ac.uk

Network website: MARCH Network
Online discussion forum: Basecamp
Join the network (SurveyMonkey)
Twitter: @NetworkMARCH

The ‘MARCH’ network proposes that social, cultural and community assets build resilient communities, and that these assets therefore lie at the centre of mental health (M-ARC-H).

Specifically, the network focuses on the role of the arts, culture, heritage, libraries, green spaces, community centres, clubs, groups and volunteering, of which there are an estimated one million in the UK.

MARCH aims to transform our understanding of how these assets enhance public mental health and wellbeing, help to prevent mental illness and support those living with mental health conditions.

Our priorities:

  • supporting research on social, cultural and community assets and mental health
  • developing cross-disciplinary methodological approaches
  • nurturing the next generation of researchers in this field
  • identifying and removing barriers to access at individual, organisational and policy levels
  • supporting new strategies and policies on community assets and mental health
  • encouraging greater participation and public engagement with community assets.

Network partners:

  • Action for Children
  • Action for Happiness
  • Age UK
  • Arts Council England
  • Arts Council of Wales
  • Beyond Skin
  • Coin Street Community Builders
  • Community Catalysts Ltd
  • Crafts Council
  • Creative Scotland
  • Culture
  • Department for Culture
  • Department for Environment
  • Food and Rural Affairs
  • Greenwich Leisure Ltd
  • Health and Wellbeing Alliance
  • Historic England
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Libraries Unlimited
  • Live Music Now
  • Local Government Association
  • Media and Sport
  • Mental Health Foundation
  • Mind
  • MindOut
  • Mosaic Youth
  • Museums Association
  • National Trust
  • Natural England
  • NCVO
  • Nesta
  • NHS Health Scotland
  • People Dancing
  • Public Health England
  • Public Health Wales
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Rastafari Movement UK
  • Royal Horticultural Society
  • Royal Society for Public Health
  • Sing Up Foundation
  • Social Farms and Gardens
  • Social Prescribing Network
  • The Children’s Society
  • The Conservation Volunteers
  • The Eden Project
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund
  • The Listening Place
  • The Reading Agency
  • The Wildlife Trusts (UK)
  • Think Local Act Personal, Voluntary Arts
  • UK Theatre
  • University of Exeter
  • University of London
  • University of Nottingham
  • What Works Centre for Wellbeing
  • Wonder Foundation
  • Youth Music
  • Youth Music Theatre UK.

Loneliness and social isolation in mental health – ES/S004440/1

Co-led by: Professor Sonia Johnson and Dr Alexandra Pitman, both at the UCL Division of Psychiatry
Email: s.johnson@ucl.ac.uk and a.pitman@ucl.ac.uk

Network coordinators: Ellie Pearce and Mary Birken
Email: ellie.pearce@ucl.ac.uk and m.birken@ucl.ac.uk

Network website: Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Network (UCL)

The network is free to join and open to anyone with an interest in loneliness and social isolation in mental health, including researchers, people with lived experience, community organisations, policy makers, mental health charities and members of the public.

To join please email: ellie.pearce@ucl.ac.uk or m.birken@ucl.ac.uk
Twitter: @UCL_Loneliness

Launched in December 2018, the network is intended to greatly accelerate the pace of research on loneliness and social isolation in mental health.

Our aims are:

  • to better understand the direction and nature of the links between loneliness and social isolation and mental health problems
  • to plant the seeds for work to reduce the burden of mental ill health by reducing loneliness and social isolation.

In order to address important research questions we have brought together researchers, health practitioners, charities, people with lived experience of mental health problems, loneliness and social isolation, and other organisations.

Researchers include clinical researchers, psychologists, social scientists, neuroscientists and specialists in the arts, the built environment and in digital innovations. We will be continuing to grow this network.

Topics we are interested in include:

  • how mental health and social connections relate to each other
  • whether tackling loneliness is a potential way of improving the population’s mental health
  • how to reduce loneliness among people living with mental health problems.

Currently, we have funding up to summer 2022. During this time, we will be:

  • mapping the evidence that is already available and the research in progress in this area
  • identifying research priorities, including those of people with relevant lived experience
  • providing seed funding for small projects
  • bringing together collaborative groups to begin developing larger projects
  • aiming to support development of the research workforce in this area, especially researchers who are early in their careers and researchers with relevant lived experience.

Network partners include:

  • Association for Young People’s Health
  • Bromley by Bow Centre
  • Campaign to End Loneliness
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Northumbria University
  • Public Health England
  • Royal College of Music
  • The Mental Elf
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Birmingham
  • Wellbeing Enterprises
  • Zinc.

Violence, abuse and mental health: opportunities for change – ES/S004424/1

Co-led by: Dr Sian Oram and Professor Louise Howard, both of King’s College London
Email: sian.oram@kcl.ac.uk and louise.howard@kcl.ac.uk

Network coordinator: Anjuli Kaul
Email: anjuli.1.kaul@kcl.ac.uk

Network email: vamhn@kcl.ac.uk
Network website: Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network (VAMHN)
Join the network (VAMHN)
Twitter: @VAMHN

VAMHN aims to reduce mental health problems by addressing associated violence and abuse, particularly domestic and sexual violence. We believe that progress will require a shared language and approach to the measurement of violence, abuse and mental health problems, in order to achieve:

  • a better understanding of pathways to domestic and sexual violence and their relationship to mental health problems
  • improved experiences of health and social care
  • more effective interventions.

Our objectives include:

  • working with people who have personal experience of violence, abuse, and mental health problems to coproduce priority research questions on these topics
  • supporting new research on violence, abuse and mental health through small grant competitions, networking and learning events, and the development of a new online resource providing information about relevant datasets
  • developing cross-disciplinary methodological approaches
  • nurturing the next generation of researchers (including survivor researchers and non-university researchers) in this field through the establishment of an early career researcher network, grant-writing workshops and bursaries.

The network brings together individuals and organisations across multiple academic disciplines, the third sector, healthcare, policing, policy and the media.

Network partners:

  • Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
  • Lancaster University
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • Newcastle University
  • St George’s University of London
  • The Lancet Psychiatry
  • The McPin Foundation
  • UCL
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Warwick.

Transdisciplinary Research for the Improvement of Youth Mental Public Health (TRIUMPH) Network – ES/S004351/1

Led by: Dr Joanna Inchley, University of Glasgow
Email: joanna.Inchley@glasgow.ac.uk

Network email: sphsu-triumph@glasgow.ac.uk
Network website: TRIUMPH
Join the network (TRIUMPH)
Twitter: @TRIUMPHnetwork

In today’s society young people face extraordinary pressures to maintain their mental health. They live in an ever-changing environment, driven by changes in technology, communications and the media. These changes have coincided with an increase in mental health problems among young people.

The TRIUMPH network will bring together young people with academics, health practitioners, policymakers and voluntary organisations to find new ways to improve mental health and wellbeing, especially among vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.

Network partners:

  • Cardiff University
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Mental Health Foundation
  • Queen’s University of Belfast
  • The Glasgow School of Art
  • University of Edinburgh.

SMaRteN: student mental health research network – ES/S00324X/1

Led by: Dr Nicola Byrom, King’s College London

Network coordinator: Jo Ward
Email:  jo.ward@kcl.ac.uk

Network email: smarten@kcl.ac.uk
Network website: SMaRteN
Join the network (Mailchimp)
Twitter: @NetworkSmarten
Instagram: @networksmarten

SMaRteN is a national research network funded by UKRI, led by King’s College London, focusing on student mental health in higher education. Working with researchers with a range of expertise and key stakeholders across the higher education sector, we aim to improve the understanding of student mental health.

The network will focus on understanding student mental health and whole institution approaches improving student mental health. The network will focus on addressing three questions:

  • What is distinctive about the mental health and wellbeing experiences of students?
  • What factors influence student mental health?
  • How can we enhance the mental wellbeing of students across a whole institution?

Network partners:

  • AMOSSHE
  • Behavioural Insights Team
  • Birkbeck
  • Charlie Waller Memorial Trust
  • City
  • National Centre for Social Research
  • NHS England
  • Northumbria University
  • Student Minds
  • The McPin Foundation
  • The Office of Health Economics
  • Universities UK
  • University of London
  • University of London
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Warwick.

The nurture network: promoting young people’s mental health in a digital world – ES/S004467/1

Led by: Professor Gordon Harold, University of Cambridge
Email: gth25@cam.ac.uk

Network coordinator: Dr. Sui-Mee Chan
Email: smmc4@cam.ac.uk

Network website: eNurture
Twitter: @enurturenetwork
Instagram: @enurture_network

The nurture network aims to improve understanding of how children and young people’s daily lives are influenced by the digital world and how they experience family, peer and school life as a result. This represents both a substantial challenge and a significant opportunity to improve their mental health, development and future life chances.

While significant advances have been made in highlighting and understanding the genetic and biological underpinnings of poor mental health and mental health disorders, the social environments children experience and interact with remain a substantial influence on their positive and negative mental health trajectories.

It is increasingly recognised that the digital environment constitutes a new dimension to the traditionally recognised roles of family, school and peer influences on children’s mental health.

  • What does the digital revolution mean for our understanding of how family, school and peer influences affect young people’s mental health and development?
  • How do we harness opportunities and protect from risks that permeate and surround young people’s social environments as a result of the digital world that they now occupy?
  • How do we empower parents, teachers, professionals, practitioners, policy makers and young people themselves to access evidence-based knowledge and information that supports positive mental health, development and future life chances?

Addressing these questions through multidisciplinary engagement and partnership activities represents the core research, practice and real-world impact objectives of eNurture.

The network takes a collaborative, cross-sectoral approach to facilitating impacts by directly engaging academic, charity, industry, policy and front-line beneficiaries (for example, families, parents, schools, teachers, children and young people).

Network partners:

  • 5Rights
  • Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  • Association for UK Interactive Entertainment
  • Barnardos
  • BBC
  • Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition
  • Client Caseload Information System
  • Ditch the Label
  • Facebook UK
  • Instagram
  • Internet Matters Ltd
  • Internet Watch Foundation
  • King’s College London
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Mumsnet
  • National Institute for Health Research MindTech Healthcare Technology Co-operative
  • NSPCC
  • ParentZone
  • Place2Be
  • PSHE Association
  • Save the Children
  • Snap Group Ltd
  • The Diana Award
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • UK Safer Internet Centre
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Nottingham
  • Yoti Ltd.

Emerging minds: action for child mental health – ES/S004726/1

Led by: Professor Cathy Creswell, University of Oxford
Email: cathy.creswell@psych.ox.ac.uk

Network manager: Emily Lloyd
Email: emily.lloyd@psych.ox.ac.uk

Network website: Emerging Minds
Twitter: @EmergingMindsUK

Emerging minds is a mental health research network funded by UKRI. Our vision is to see the number of children and young people who experience mental health problems halved within 20 years. We are fostering research collaborations, across sectors and disciplines, focusing on mental health promotion, prevention and early treatment for children and young people.

We will be setting the emerging minds network four key research challenges to address collaboratively. These research challenges have been prioritised by young people, families, practitioners and policy makers, with support from our partners: Young Minds and the Centre for Mental Health.

Network partners:

  • Centre for Mental Health
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Mental Health Museum
  • MQ
  • Newcastle University
  • NSPCC
  • Swansea University
  • The Mental Elf
  • The University of Manchester
  • University of Bath
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Reading
  • YoungMinds.

Improving health and reducing health inequalities for people with severe mental illness: the ‘closing the gap’ network+ – ES/S004459/1

Led by: Professor Simon Gilbody, University of York
Email: simon.gilbody@york.ac.uk

Network coordinator: Dr Emily Peckham
Email: emily.peckham@york.ac.uk

Network email: ctg-network@york.ac.uk
Network website: University of York: closing the gap
To join, click the network button at the bottom of the page on the network website.
Twitter: @ctgnetworkuk
Youtube: closing the gap

The network leadership team’s aspiration is to form innovative, mutually valuable, cross-disciplinary partnerships and to build cross-disciplinary research capacity at the interface between physical and mental health, to strengthen the UK mental health research base.

People with severe mental illness (SMI) such as schizophrenia and bipolar illness die on average 20 to 25 years earlier than those without such disorders, due to factors including heart disease, diabetes (and its complications), and cancers associated with lifestyle factors.

This population has much higher smoking and obesity rates. People with SMI often have poor housing and lead sedentary lives, missing the beneficial opportunities of exercise and interaction with the natural environment.

The network, which is funded for four years, brings together researchers with complementary perspectives and people with experience of SMI (and their carers) to produce high-impact research to address and reduce this mortality gap.

We plan to grow the network and deliver a programme of research and collaboration. Our activities, overseen by a steering committee with local, national and international expertise, will initially involve four areas of work:

  • identifying how people interact with and benefit from natural environments (‘green- and blue-space’)
  • making new links between areas of data, using pre-existing information (‘big data’) on how people with SMI use health services and the natural environment
  • exploring digital technologies (for example, smartphones and ‘apps’) to improve the physical health of people with SMI
  • exploring the potential of the arts and creativity to understand and improve the physical health of people with SMI.

We have also identified issues which cut across the four research areas, for example the inequality that people with SMI experience compared to the rest of the population.

We plan to hold events to encourage collaboration and to increase network membership.

Network partners:

  • Centre for Health Economics
  • Digital Creativity Labs
  • Equally Well
  • Groundwork Trust
  • Hull York Medical School
  • Keele University
  • Mental Health Foundation
  • N8 Research Partnership
  • Natural England
  • Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust
  • The Campbell Collaboration
  • The Cochrane Collaboration
  • The Equality Trust
  • York Mental Health and Addictions Research Group
  • York University Centre for Reviews and Dissemination
  • York University Department of Theatre Film and Television
  • York University Environment Department
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Last updated: 29 June 2021

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