Healthcare, research and innovation partners in Cambridgeshire are working together to find new therapies for depression and tackle a leading cause of disability, affecting more than 264 million people worldwide, of which 30% do not recover with standard treatments.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), the University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East of England, and Eastern AHSN are investigating the biological, psychological and social factors underlying this major mental health disorder, and solutions to help people recover from persistent depression. They presented their projects and latest research findings at a virtual conference held on 30 April 2021.
Over 100 health professionals, science and technology partners and experts with lived experience attended to consider a values-based approach to the depression care pathway, combining patient and clinician perspectives and applying the latest evidence and innovations. Panel discussions explored how health, science and technology partners can work better together to improve care and pursue the most promising, cost effective new treatments to transform lives now, and in the future.
CPFT Deputy Medical Director and conference co-chair, Dr Cathy Walsh said:
“We need an integrated approach to improve outcomes for persistent depression, involving patients, carers, clinicians, academic and industry partners. Thank you to everyone who attended for sharing insights to advance research and clinical care.
“At CPFT, we are committed to expanding our regional and international research programmes, and working with new partners to accelerate innovation in NHS mental health care for our patients to benefit.”
Eastern AHSN hosted the landmark event and supports NHS Trusts to apply innovations and technology to address the greatest healthcare challenges facing regional communities.
Eastern AHSN Commercial Director Dr Louise Jopling said: “It was exciting to see the impressive expertise and capability we have in our health system, to address major problems like persistent depression, showcased at this event. Collaborative projects that bring innovations to NHS clinics give us the best opportunities to improve mental health, and we encourage industry colleagues to get in touch to explore novel research and technology partnerships in this field.”
The NIHR ARC East of England, hosted by CPFT is working to reduce social and health inequalities for people with mental health difficulties, focussing on communities with high health needs across the East of England. Their Mental Health Theme projects are building research infrastructure to help integrate physical and mental health services, and improve mental health care across the life course.
NIHR ARC East of England Mental Health Theme Lead and CPFT consultant psychiatrist Professor Jesus Perez said:
“This region offers great opportunities to apply research in care settings, and our researchers are evaluating new models to grow the evidence base for best practice and integrated care.
"We need to ensure the most effective therapies can be offered as quickly as possible to give people the best chance of recovery. We also need to focus our efforts on early intervention and prevention as we recover from the pandemic, to ensure people are supported and don’t develop more persistent mental health problems.”
CPFT is one of the UK’s top research active NHS Trusts and thousands of research volunteers take part in mental health research with the Trust every year. Specialist research teams are working on studies in depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, dementia and intellectual disabilities.
Resources and talks from the virtual conference are available at: