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Mental Health Networks

Eight Mental Health Networks have been set up by UKRI to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address important mental health research questions. The £8 million Networks – funded by UKRI and the government's modern Industrial Strategy for four years (one for three) – will embrace a collaborative ethos, bringing together researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including technology, health, medicine, biology, social sciences, humanities and environmental sciences. Many of the networks will also include insight from charity workers, health practitioners and people with lived experience of mental health problems.


The membership of the Mental Health Networks Networking & 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) STFC
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.

Elaine Fox

Elaine Fox

Professor 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.”

See a full list of the mental health networks below:

MARCH: Social, Cultural and Community Assets for Mental Health - ES/S002588/1

Daisy Fancourt

Daisy Fancourt

Led by: Dr Daisy Fancourt, University College London (with 6 co-investigators)

Contact details: d.fancourt@ucl.ac.uk

Network Coordinator: Ms Vas James

Contact details: vas.james@ucl.ac.uk

Network website: www.marchnetwork.org

Online discussion forum: Basecamp

To join the Network: www.surveymonkey.com/r/M-ARC-H

Twitter: @NetworkMARCH

Network summary:

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 1 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 & 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 & policy levels
  • Supporting new strategies and policies on community assets & mental health
  • Encouraging greater participation and public engagement with community assets

Network Partners:

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

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

Sonia Johnson

Sonia Johnson

Co-led by: Professor Sonia Johnson and Dr Alexandra Pitman, both at the UCL Division of Psychiatry

Contact details: s.johnson@ucl.ac.uk and a.pitman@ucl.ac.uk

Network Coordinators: Ellie Pearce and Mary Birken

Contact details: Ellie.pearce@ucl.ac.uk and M.birken@ucl.ac.uk

Network website: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/research/epidemiology-and-applied-clinical-research-department/loneliness-and-social-isolation

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

Alexandra Pitman

Alexandra Pitman

Network summary:

Launched in December 2018, the Network is intended to greatly accelerate the pace of research on loneliness and social isolation in mental health.  Our aim to is to better understand the direction and nature of the links between loneliness and social isolation and mental health problems, and 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:

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

Violence, Abuse and Mental Health: Opportunities for Change - ES/S004424/1

Sian Oram

Sian Oram

Co-led by: Dr Sian Oram and Professor Louise Howard, both of King’s College London

Contact details: sian.oram@kcl.ac.uk and louise.howard@kcl.ac.uk

Network coordinator: Anjuli Kaul

Contact details: anjuli.1.kaul@kcl.ac.uk

Network email address: vamhn@kcl.ac.uk

Network website: https://www.vamhn.co.uk/

Join the network here: https://www.vamhn.co.uk/join-the-network.html

Twitter: @VAMHN

Network summary:

The Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network (VAMHN) aims to reduce mental health problems by addressing associated violence and abuse, particularly domestic and sexual violence.

Louise Howard

Louise Howard

We believe that progress will require a shared language and approach to the measurement of violence, abuse, and mental health problems; a better understanding of pathways to domestic and sexual violence and their relationship to mental health problems; improved experiences of health and social care; and more effective interventions.

Our objectives include

  1. Working with people who have personal experience of violence, abuse, and mental health problems to coproduce priority research questions on these topics;
  2. 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;
  3. Developing cross-disciplinary methodological approaches;
  4. 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:

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

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

Joanna Inchley

Joanna Inchley

Led by: Dr Joanna Inchley, University of Glasgow

Contact details: Joanna.Inchley@glasgow.ac.uk

Network email address: sphsu-triumph@glasgow.ac.uk

Network website: http://triumph.sphsu.gla.ac.uk/

To join the Network: http://triumph.sphsu.gla.ac.uk/membership/

Twitter: @TRIUMPHnetwork

Network summary:

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:

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

SMARtEN: Student Mental Health Research Network – ES/S00324X/1

Nicola Byrom

Nicola Byrom

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

Network Coordinator: Laura Beswick

Contact details: laura.beswick@kcl.ac.uk

Network email address: smarten@kcl.ac.uk

Network website: https://www.smarten.org.uk

To join the Network: https://www.smarten.org.uk/join.html

Twitter: @NetworkSmarten

Instagram: @networksmarten

Network summary:

SMaRteN is a national research network funded by UK Research and Innovation, 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:

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

The Nurture Network: Promoting Young People's Mental Health in a Digital World – ES/S004467/1

Gordon Harold

Gordon Harold

Led by: Professor Gordon Harold, University of Sussex

Contact details: G.Harold@sussex.ac.uk

Network Coordinator: Dr. Sui-Mee Chan

Contact details:  s.m.chan2@sussex.ac.uk


Network website: https://www.enurture.org.uk/

Twitter: @enurturenetwork

Instagram: @enurture_network

Network summary:

Improved 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, 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 (e.g. families, parents, schools, teachers, children and young people).

Network Partners:

University of Nottingham, University of Edinburgh, University of Cambridge, King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, 5Rights, Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Barnardos, BBC, CCIS, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, Ditch the Label, Facebook UK, Instagram, Internet Matters Ltd, Internet Watch Foundation, Mumsnet, NIHR MindTech HTC, NSPCC, PSHE Association, ParentZone, Place2Be, Save the Children, Snap Group Ltd, The Diana Award, The Walt Disney Company, UK Safer Internet Centre, UKIE, Yoti Ltd.

Emerging Minds: Action for Child Mental Health – ES/S004726/1

Cathy Creswell

Cathy Creswell

Led by: Professor Cathy Creswell, University of Oxford

Contact details: cathy.creswell@psych.ox.ac.uk

Network Manager: Emily Lloyd

Contact details: Emily.lloyd@psych.ox.ac.uk

Network website: www.emergingminds.org.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmergingMindsUK

Network summary:

Emerging Minds is a mental health research network funded by UK Research and Innovation. 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 4 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:

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

Improving health and reducing health inequalities for people with severe mental illness: the 'Closing the Gap' Network+ - ES/S004459/1

Simon Gilbody

Simon Gilbody

Led by: Professor Simon Gilbody, University of York

Contact details: simon.gilbody@york.ac.uk

Network Coordinator: Dr Emily Peckham

Contact details: Emily.peckham@york.ac.uk

Network email address: ctg-network@york.ac.uk

Network website: https://www.york.ac.uk/healthsciences/closing-the-gap/

(to join, click the network button at the bottom of the page).

Twitter: @ctgnetworkuk

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSE-HfqmmybSYzwdTv7s-kA

Network summary:

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 20-25 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 (e.g. 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:

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