Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
9 Oct 2019
This World Mental Health day, a new audio tour is launching at the National Gallery to dispel myths surrounding mental health. Tour project lead, Dr Helen Fisher from King’s College London, tells us why she thinks that getting people thinking about mental health is so important. The tour is funded by the MRC, part of UK Research & Innovation.
Image credit: The National Gallery, London [...]
My research work focuses on why young people develop mental health problems. A lot of the benefits from the work I do are quite far in the future – it might take 20 or 30 years for outcomes of our research to trickle through to actual practice. That’s a long time to wait to make a difference. There’s an element of frustration that it takes such a long time, while knowing that right now, out there in the world there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, which is preventing many young people from getting the help they need.
Continue reading: Mental health audio tour makes young people’s voices heard
27 Feb 2019
Today’s latest report from the charity MQ raises important questions about how much is spent on mental health research in the UK. So we asked Dr Jo Latimer, MRC Head of Neurosciences and Mental Health, to talk us through the funding we dedicate to this area – and why it’s a top priority for us.
Research looking across the life course, from childhood to adulthood, will help us to address gaps in our knowledge about mental health conditions. Image credit: cherylholt on Pixabay.
This year, in the UK, about a quarter of us will be affected by mental health problems that are serious enough to need treatment, support and care. At least 75% of us know someone in our friend or family circle who has experienced problems with their mental health and we’re seeing a worrying rise in the number of children and adolescents experiencing a mental health disorder. [...]
Continue reading: Building momentum in mental health research
30 Jan 2019
Daniel Freeman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford, is pioneering virtual reality (VR) as a treatment for people with severe mental health problems. He tells us about his working life, the inspiration behind his ideas and the large potential for VR beyond gaming.
Career in brief:
- BA Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge
- PhD in psychology and a DClinPsy in clinical psychology at King’s College London
- Wellcome Trust Fellow at King’s College London
- MRC Senior Clinical Fellow at the University of Oxford
- NIHR Research Professor at the University of Oxford
Continue reading: Working life: Professor Daniel Freeman
11 Dec 2018
In India, more than 75% of people experiencing mental illness have no access to mental healthcare. Working with the Sangath organisation in Goa, Research Assistant Alison Garber explains how she’s hoping to provide healthcare from a distance for people in rural communities.
Meet Priya*, a 25-year-old woman who lives in a remote village in Goa, India. Ever since her adolescence, she’s been experiencing severe mental health issues that deeply affect her family. She breaks objects at home and hurts herself by hitting her hands and legs repeatedly. The family have travelled great distances seeking help, but with no success. They are growing increasingly desperate. [...]
Continue reading: Connecting urban psychiatry with rural India
28 Nov 2018
Fraser Shearer, MRC PhD student at the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, The University of Edinburgh was commended in this year’s Max Perutz Science Writing Award. He describes how understanding the impact of stress hormones during pregnancy on a child’s lifelong mental health, could help us treat poor mental health more effectively in future.
In just a few weeks my first child is due. I have unbuilt furniture sitting in a wholly unprepared ‘nursery’ which is also my partner’s office, a pram that I am still unsure about, sleep sacks that are apparently a thing babies use and, for someone who does not have breasts, I have a wealth of knowledge about breast pumps. This, however, pales in comparison to the list of things I do not have and the window for fulfilling that list is rapidly shrinking. Suffice it to say, my stress hormone levels are elevated. [...]
Continue reading: Keep calm and carry to term
8 Oct 2018
We’ve recently funded Professor Sir Graham Thornicroft, a leading expert in research on mental health discrimination and stigma, to carry out a global study. On the day of the world’s first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit, he sets out what stigma looks like across the globe and how his study will make a difference.
Around one in four people will experience mental ill health at some point in their lives, and this year alone around 450 million people worldwide have a mental health condition. Our research shows that in many countries 80 to 90% of them experience negative stigma and discrimination. [...]
It’s so important we carry out research on how to improve this situation globally. Over the last decade, in over a dozen countries including the UK, there have been national anti-stigma programmes and the evidence shows that these can be effective. But so far, all of these programmes have been in high-income countries.
Continue reading: Standing up to global mental health stigma
13 Sep 2018
Starting university should be a time for having fun and making new friends. So why are we seeing record referral rates to student counselling services and reports of student suicides in the news? And what can universities do to help? Dr Nicola Byrom, Lecturer in Psychology at King’s College London, is using UK Research and Innovation ‘Network Plus’ funding to find out.
Type ‘Student mental health’ into a search of UK news and you’ll be hit by headlines referring to: ‘The ticking time-bomb’, ‘Students being let down’, warnings that ‘problems are rising’. If you read these stories in isolation, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re in the depths of a crisis in student mental health.
In reality the picture is much more complex. In June this year, the Office of National Statistics reported that the suicide rate among the general population is actually higher than the comparable age group of university students. [...]
Continue reading: Is there a crisis in student mental health?
6 Sep 2018
Psychiatrist and Population Scientist Professor Simon Gilbody of the University of York, has just been awarded £1 million to build his new “Closing the gap network”. With 20 years’ experience in healthcare, Simon has seen how lives can be transformed if the same emphasis is placed on both physical and mental health. Starting this year, the special network of experts from the sciences to the arts will try to understand and tackle the root causes of why the health and life expectancy of people with severe mental ill health is so poor.
Image credit: University of York
What is the ‘mortality gap’ and what are we doing to tackle it?
People who use mental health services experience the poorest physical health and most profound health inequalities of any section of the UK population.
Diabetes, heart disease and chronic respiratory illness, are two to three times more common in this group of people than for people with good mental health. Life expectancy is reduced by 20 to 25 years, and a person developing schizophrenia in their 20s can only expect, on average, to live into their 50s. [...]
Continue reading: How do we help people living with mental health conditions live longer, healthier lives?
14 Aug 2017
University of Manchester Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer Dr Sandra Bucci tells us about a Smartphone app her team are developing for the self-management of psychosis, and how it could particularly help younger ‘digital natives’.
Image credit: University of Manchester
Severe mental health problems such as schizophrenia affect 24 million people worldwide, with an estimated annual cost to society of nearly £12bn in England alone. People with psychosis tend to misinterpret or confuse what is going on around them. For example, they may experience hallucinations (in which they see or hear things that are not real), delusions (unusual beliefs not usually held by others) or confused thinking.
Connecting the disconnected
Feelings of isolation are common for people experiencing psychosis. Psychotic experiences usually begin to appear in adolescence and young adulthood – a critical time in life when we find our identity, complete our education and start out on our careers. Feeling disconnected from others during that time can have really serious knock-on effects, not only on the trajectory of the rest of your life but for your family, and for society more broadly. [...]
Continue reading: Connecting with help
10 Apr 2017
One of the ways the MRC supports scientists in delivering world-leading research is by holding workshops where researchers can meet with our programme teams to discuss the MRC’s aims and ambitions for their area of work. As we prepare to publish our updated Strategy for Lifelong Mental Health Research, Dr Kathryn Adcock, the MRC’s Head of Neurosciences and Mental Health looks forward to the global mental health workshop coming in June.
As with so much in life, the best ideas often emerge when we come together. It’s the meeting of minds that enables those ideas to grow, and dialogue and debate that nurtures those ideas, shaping the world of tomorrow.
This is especially true for research. The MRC fervently believes that the best research often comes about when researchers collaborate, irrespective of science area and increasingly, irrespective of geographical boundary.
Social media provides a terrific virtual way to bring scientists together, whether it’s announcing new programmes and research calls on twitter, or commenting at the foot of blog posts like this one. But as helpful as the virtual world can be, there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction. [...]
Continue reading: Mental health research: working it out together