The country's top mental health researchers and clinicians are joining forces to solve some of the greatest mental health challenges facing the UK public.
The group of investigators, based in leading universities and hospitals across the country, will form a new NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (TRC) which will work with industry and charity partners to find new treatments and therapeutics.
Currently, it is estimated that one in four people in the UK is living with a mental health condition. That’s nearly 15 million people with an illness that affects their well-being, their relationships with family and friends, and their ability to work.
The new NIHR Mental Health TRC will carry out much-needed scientific research to help transform the lives of those affected by mental illness. The initial focus of the collaboration will be on trying to better understand treatment resistant depression and improving characterisation of those individuals deemed to be ‘at risk’ of developing mental illness. It will also develop well-defined patient cohorts who have consented to be recalled to future mental health research studies in order to increase the numbers of people with mental disorders taking part in experimental medicine studies and trials.
The NIHR Mental Health TRC will follow a similar operating model to that already established through the NIHR’s collaborations in joint and related inflammatory diseases, respiratory disease and dementia.
The NIHR Mental Health TRC is underpinned by world class clinical research facilities provided by the NIHR’s Biomedical Research Centres and Clinical Research Facilities, and the NIHR Mental Health MedTech Co-operative, but it acts as a single partnership. This means that research opportunities can be explored more easily and quickly and provides a single point of contact for partners such as industry and medical research charities to work with the 11 participating centres of excellence. It also speeds up the negotiation of agreements and contracts and coordinates all steps from first contact through to delivery of the agreed project and ultimately the development of new interventions, technologies and diagnostics.
Director of the NIHR Maudsley BRC and Chair of the Mental Health TRC, Professor Matthew Hotopf, wrote a post on the NIHR blog explaining why the Mental Health TRC was established and what it hopes to achieve.
He says, "We hope, by working in partnership with patients, bringing in new talent, and joining up the resources we have already, that we can transform the landscape of mental health research – and by doing so to improve the lives of those affected."