Build your network

Build your network

In the UK, research into mental health often happens within NHS Trusts, mental health trusts, local authorities and charities. NHS institutions are linked up with universities in local, regional and national research networks. These research networks (which are known by various different acronyms - many of which we cover below) allow professionals and practitioners to connect and collaborate with academic researchers. If you are interested in getting involved in research, it's a good idea to approach the R&D department in your organisation. Through this, you will start to establish links with people who are already carrying out research. Through regional organisations like ARCs and BRCs, you will start to hear about research that is happening in your area, opportunities you can take advantage of, and funding calls which could support your own research ideas.

Mental Health Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs)

The Mental Health BRCs are collaborations between universities and NHS organisations (including some mental health trusts) that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies. There are many BRCs across the UK and two that are particularly focused on mental health. Many others have mental health themes or workstreams.

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs)

NIHR ARCs support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets the needs of, local populations and local health and care systems. They have a focus to work across the NHS, public health, social care and the voluntary and community sector. ARC South London and ARC East of England have a particular mental health focus and in February 2022, 11 of the ARCs received additional funding under the NIHR's Mental Health Research Initiative.

NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (TRC)

The Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (MH-TRC) brings together the NIHR Infrastructure (Biomedical Research Centres and Clinical Research Facilities) with their equivalents in Scotland and Wales active in the space of experimental medicine and early-phase clinical trials in mental health. Training, capacity development, and mentoring the next generation of future leaders and academics in mental health is a key priority for the MH-TRC. Find out more about the MH-TRC here.

The Mental Health Mission (MHM)

The MHM provides significant funding support to partners nationally: the two principal locations of the project in Birmingham (Midlands Translational Centre) and Liverpool (Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre – M-RIC), as well as to the NIHR Mental Health TRC. The MHM has national work streams for an aligned mental health workforce in the following areas: Capacity development and training; Data and Digital; Children and Young people’s mental health; Early psychosis; Mood disorder. Read more in our blog post.

NIHR Schools

Each national school is a unique collaboration between leading academic centres in England, carrying out outstanding research in their respective fields. Research funded or supported by NIHR Schools is applied across the country to meet the needs of policymakers, practitioners and the public. The three schools collaborate in a mental health programme offering fellowships for mental health research.

  • School for Social Care Research: Its focus is to develop the evidence base to inform and improve adult social care practice in England by commissioning and conducting internationally leading research.
  • School for Public Health Research: Its aim is to increase the evidence base for cost-effective public health practice.
  • School for Primary Care Research: It collaborates on cutting edge, topical primary care studies that have an impact both at policy level and in general practices around the country.

UKRI Mental Health Research networks

The funded period for the UKRI Mental Health Research networks has ended but key contacts from these networks can still be found on this UKRI webpage on its mental health research networks.

“Get in touch with the R&D department in your trust. They’ll be aware of the studies that are going on and they’ll be able to put you in touch with the Principle Investigators of those.”
– Martin Webber, Professor of Social Work

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