Researchers awarded £2m to lead new mental health networks

Researchers from the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London have been awarded more than £2 million in funding to lead two new mental health networks.

£2m for Mental Health NetworkThe networks are two of eight mental health networks announced today by UK Research and Innovation. Dr Nicola Byrom will lead the Student Mental Health Research Network and Professor Louise Howard and Dr Sian Oram will jointly lead a network on Violence, Abuse and Mental Health: Opportunities for Change.

Reports suggest that the mental wellbeing of students may be among the lowest across the whole population. However, a lack of strong data on student mental health is a barrier to putting evidence-based solutions in place.

[Image from left to right: Professor Louise Howard, Dr Sian Oram and Dr Nicola Byrom]

This network will put the student voice at the centre of new research by recruiting a student-led research team to identify high-priority research questions and act as an equal partner in decision-making.

Dr Byrom, Lecturer in Psychology at IoPPN, commented:

This network will bring together researchers with expertise in diverse academic disciplines and stakeholders from across the higher education sector, to focus efforts to understand why levels of mental distress are rising among the student population and how to reverse this trend. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with students throughout the project, to fully embed the student voice in all of our work.

The network jointly led by Professor Howard and Dr Oram will address a common, but often unspoken, cause of mental distress – domestic and sexual violence and abuse. Witnessing or experiencing domestic and sexual violence or abuse in childhood or adulthood is associated with the development of mental health problems, yet evidence on how to reduce the risk of developing and treating a mental health problem after experiencing violence or abuse is limited.

Research priorities for this network will be co-produced by people who have lived experience of violence and mental health problems. The network will have a strong emphasis on cross-disciplinary and interactive events, such as policy labs to inform the network of evidence gaps, workshops to develop new ideas on interventions, and public lectures to enhance collaboration and learning.

Professor Howard, Professor of Women's Mental Health at the IoPPN and Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, commented:

In developing this network we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of so many different stakeholders for a network focused on domestic and sexual violence and mental health. Many survivors of violence and abuse have mental health problems but there has been relatively little research funded previously on the links between domestic and sexual violence, and mental health.

The King’s Health Partners Women’s Health Clinical Academic Group covers a range of services across maternity care and gynaecological services, and aims to improve women’s health in our community. 

The King’s Health Partners Psychological Medicine and Integrated Care Clinical Academic Group delivers world class specialist services in mood disorders, eating disorders, mother and baby, psychosexual, neuropsychiatry, memory disorders and HIV in the context of mental health. 

Read more on the King’s College London website.