£8 million investment in new mental health research networks


Eight new networks designed to broaden mental health research have been announced by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) today.

The networks cover a diverse range of topics, such as exploring the impact of loneliness and social isolation on mental health, improving the life expectancy of people with severe mental ill health and promoting young people's mental health in a digital world. They will bring together experts from different fields from the arts, humanities and sciences to build capacity and lay the foundations for new, multidisciplinary approaches to mental health research.

The networks represent a total £8 million investment of public money over four years from across the research councils and will embrace insight from charity workers, health professionals and people with lived experience of mental health issues. This complements the £44 million average funding dedicated to this area each year by the MRC and other research councils.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said:“Mental ill health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK, and it is estimated that almost a quarter of the country’s population are affected by mental health issues each year.

“The UKRI Mental Health Networks will take a new approach to addressing this challenge by bringing together researchers across a wide range of disciplines with people who have experienced mental health issues, charities, health practitioners and other organisations. Through their work, the new networks will further our understanding about the causes, development and treatments of a wide range of mental health issues.” 

Dr Rachael Panizzo PhD, MRC Programme Manager for Mental Health and Addiction said:

“We know poor mental health is a complex problem and we want to look at all the factors involved.   UK research already explores some of the links between mental health and physical health, upbringing, relationships, and socioeconomic factors, but these new networks will strengthen research capacity in exciting and underexplored areas.  By working across Councils within UKRI we can broaden our scope, and create important new insights into mental health risk and prevention.”

Mental health research is a strategic priority for the MRC. Our global community of leading scientists is making huge strides in our understanding of mental health, progressing new treatments and ultimately uncovering paths to prevention of mental health problems.

The network funding call was the result of the Cross-disciplinary Mental Health Research Agenda 2017, developed jointly by the UK research councils, which pinpointed areas where researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds might work together to accelerate progress in mental health research.

The MRC became a constituent part of UKRI on 1 April 2018. UKRI is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.

Summaries of the new Mental Health Networks

  • MARCH: Social, Cultural and Community Assets for Mental Health
  • Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health
  • Violence, Abuse and Mental Health: Opportunities for Change
  • Transdisciplinary Research for the Improvement of Youth Mental Public Health (TRIUMPH) Network
  • SMARtEN: Student Mental Health Research Network
  • The Nurture Network: Promoting Young People's Mental Health in a Digital World
  • Emerging Minds: Action for Child Mental Health
  • Improving Health and Reducing Health Inequalities for People with Severe Mental Illness: the 'Closing the Gap' Network+
To read more information, click here.

The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health.

MRC [Medical Research Council]