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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.

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:

The network was launched in December 2018 and is one of eight UKRI-funded researcher networks. It brings together researchers, health practitioners, charities, people with lived experience of mental ill health, and other organisations to address important mental health research questions. Researchers include clinical researchers, psychologists, social scientists, neuroscientists and specialists in the arts and in digital innovations.

The Network is intended to greatly accelerate the pace of research on loneliness and social isolation in mental health. 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 mental health of our population
  • how to reduce loneliness among people living with mental health problems.

We have got together a network of researchers, third sector representatives, practitioners from different backgrounds (including charities working in this field), and people representing those with lived experience of loneliness and social isolation. We will be continuing to grow this network.

We have funding currently up to Summer 2022. In 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 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.

Over the course of three and a half years we will be scoping current evidence and on-going work, identifying research priorities, and providing seed-funding for small projects. 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.

The network is supported by third sector and policy partners, including Wellbeing Enterprises CIC, the Campaign to End Loneliness, the Bromley By Bow Centre, Social Spider CIC, the Mental Elf, and Public Health England.

We launched our network on 3/12/18 at an event at Friends House, near Euston station in London, whilst also disseminating the results of the Community Navigator study.

Network partners:

University of Birmingham, Northumbria University, Royal College of Music, London School of Economics and Political Science, 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 Administrator: Carmel Stevenson

Contact details: c.stevenson@sussex.ac.uk

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

Twitter: @enurturenetwork

Instagram: @enurture_network

Network summary:

Promoting improved understanding of how children’s daily lives are influenced by the digital world that now surrounds them and how they experience family, peer and school life as a result represents a substantial challenge and opportunity relative to facilitating positive mental health and development for children and young people. Historically, researchers have emphasised the role of supportive parenting and positive school experiences (including peer relationships) as primary social environmental influences on children’s mental health, with most interventions targeting family and school-based influences aimed at remediating poor mental health outcomes for children and young people. It is increasingly recognised that the digital environment constitutes a new dimension or common denominator to these traditional agencies of socialisation influence on children’s mental health. Yet, little progress has been made in equipping parents, teachers and the professional agencies that work with families and schools with new knowledge that harnesses potential strengths while offering protection from substantial risks posed to children by the digital world. How do we equip parents, teachers, practitioners, policy makers and youth themselves with information, support and resources that promotes positive mental health in a contemporary (and future) digital age? Addressing this core challenge represents the primary objective of our multi-disciplinary e-Nurture network.

While significant advances have been made in relation to highlighting and understanding the genetic and biological underpinnings of poor mental health and mental health disorders in recent years, it is recognised that the social environments children experience and interact with remain a substantial influence on their positive and negative mental health trajectories (even when genetic factors are considered). Three primary areas of social environmental influence on children’s mental health have dominated past research and practice in this area. First, family socialisation processes, specifically parenting practices are recognised as a substantive influence on children’s mental health. Second, peer influences are noted as an important influence on children’s mental health. Third, school-based factors are recognised as a further influence on children’s mental health and development.

Increasingly, the digital environment is recognised as a factor that both infuses traditional agencies of socialisation for children and that can influence children directly. Policy makers have recently directed significant attention to the prevalence rates and support needs among children and young people who experience mental health problems. The digital environment and its potential for positive and negative influences on children’s well-being, mental health and development has also received substantial research, policy and media attention. Building on this policy platform, the primary objectives of our network are to (1) explore how the digital environment has changed the ways in which children experience and interact with family, school and peer-based influences and what these changes mean for children’s mental health, (2) identify how we can recognise and disentangle digital risks from opportunities when working with families, schools and professional agencies in developing intervention programmes to improve mental health outcomes for children and young people, and (3) identify how we effectively incorporate and disseminate this new knowledge to engage present and future practice models and the design and development of digital platforms and interventions aimed at promoting mental health and reducing negative mental health trajectories for young people.

The network will engage 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 Exeter, 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:

People with severe mental illness (SMI) such as schizophrenia and bipolar illness die on average 20-25 years earlier than those without such disorders. The causes of reduced life expectancy are things such as heart disease or diabetes (and its complications) or cancers associated with lifestyle factors. Rates of smoking and obesity are much higher in this population, and people with SMI often lead sedentary lives. Housing is often poor, and people do not benefit from the opportunities offered by exercise and interaction with the natural environment.

The need to improve physical health is recognised in a document known as the Five Year Forward View (FYFV) for Mental Health, where it is described as 'one of the greatest health inequalities in England'. Any solutions to these complex problems requires collaboration between researchers from different backgrounds and with different skills. For research to have impact, it is important that people with experience of SMI (and those who care for them) are involved from the outset.

The University of York has a set of researchers with complementary perspectives who have not historically worked together. We will produce research that addresses and reduces this mortality gap. Our plan is to grow our Network with the help of the funds offered, and we will deliver a programme of research and collaboration. Our activities will be overseen by a steering committee with local, national and international expertise.

The initial activities of our network will involve four areas of work. The first is led by international experts in how people interact with and benefit from natural environments ('green- and blue-space'). The second area of work will seek to harness the potential of the large amounts of information that are recorded on how people with SMI use health services and the natural environment ('big data'). We will make links between data that have not been connected before. The third area of work will explore the potential of digital technologies (such as smartphones and 'apps') to improve the physical health of people with SMI. The fourth area of work will explore the potential of the arts and creativity to understand and improve the physical health and wellbeing of people with SMI.

Collaboration is at the centre of this Network, and we have put in place a plan to ensure that researchers work together to find creative solutions to the problem of the mortality gap. We have also identified issues which cut across the four research areas that we have prioritised. One factor which links each of the themes is the inequality that people with SMI experience when compared to the rest of the population. We have enlisted a research team with a very strong track record in this area.

Our Network will run over four years. During this time we will hold events which will encourage collaboration and where new members are added to the Network. Investments will stimulate new initiatives and collaborations. Our aspiration is to form innovative, mutually valuable, cross-disciplinary partnerships. We will build cross-disciplinary research capacity at the interface between physical and mental health in order to strengthen the UK mental health research base. We note that this is an under-researched and neglected priority. Research at the interface between mental and physical health lags behind research into underpinning mechanisms and the unitary treatment of either physical or mental disorders alone.

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.