People using mental health services, including children and young people across the country are set to benefit from a new national research network leading projects to improve practice and care.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaborations (ARC) South London and East of England have successfully bid to co-lead the UK’s Mental Health Priority Network. The network aims to drive national collaborations and changes in mental health practice, with £1.88 million funding awarded by the NIHR over three years from 1 October 2020.
The ARCs collaborated to enter the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) National Priorities Competition, launched in 2019 to address specific challenges for the health and care system, and improve service delivery across England.
The Mental Health Priority Network will involve service users, local communities, health and care providers, commissioners and a wide range of regional and national stakeholders to deliver evidence based service change. Projects will work to improve mental health across the life course by catalysing and evaluating high impact interventions at key stages in regional and national services.
Professor Jesus Perez, Consultant Psychiatrist at CPFT (hosting ARC East of England) and ARC Mental Health Theme Lead said: “I am both honoured and delighted to be part of the new ARC national priority mental health network. Undoubtedly, the NIHR offers us a golden opportunity to make a significant impact on the mental health care provided across England. This collaboration will listen to and work closely with our communities in order to identify the questions that matter most to them, whilst putting available evidence based solutions into practice for a real positive change to the service they currently receive.”
Tina Coldham, a mental health user consultant, trainer and researcher will lead public and community involvement, engagement and participation in the network. Tina said: “This is an important opportunity for us all to work together co-productively to find effective ways to help service users and their carers. I’m looking forward to working with colleagues in a unique collaboration with strong public and patient involvement at its core to ensure we focus on what matters most to those that require help and support.”
Professor Colin Drummond, Programme Lead at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London (hosting ARC South London) said: “I am delighted we have been given this opportunity to transform implementation of effective mental health interventions in England. I am looking forward to working with key national and local stakeholders to drive much needed service change in mental health, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of service users and carers. We have developed a national collaboration of the key experts in mental health implementation and research, including partners from all 15 ARCs.”
The network will be underpinned by public and patient involvement, engagement and participation - looking into workforce considerations; financial sustainability and cost effectiveness; using and developing appropriate data, technology and digital tools. Find more information on the network's objectives here.
Both ARCs lead major workstreams in mental health and care, delivered by health staff and academics with world-leading expertise in implementing high quality research and assessing impact. Visit the NIHR ARC East of England and NIHR ARC South London websites for more information.
They also both have a track record of leading and collaborating on national and global projects to improve health and care, working with Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, the NHS, Public Health England, third sector organisations, industry, overseas governments, the European Commission, World Health Organisation, United Nations, and the World Psychiatric Association.