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The NIHR Schools for Primary Care Research (SPCR), Public Health Research (SPHR) and Social Care Research (SSCR) (“three Schools”) have joined together in a unique collaboration between leading academic centres in England to collaborate on a programme of work funded through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): Improving mental health and wellbeing in underserved populations through collaborative research.

 Juan Carlos Bazo Alvarez

Juan Carlos Bazo Alverez - University College London

Project Title: Health inequalities in People with seveRe mental Illnesses: Impact of antipsychOtic tReatments and social Inequalities on long Term phYsical health (PRIORITY)

Brief Summary: People with severe mental illness (SMI), such as schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder, are at greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and strokes. As a result, they, on average, die 10-15 years younger than people who do not have these conditions. They are often prescribed antipsychotics for many years to help manage their condition. These drugs can increase body weight and alter blood pressure and cholesterol levels when taken for long periods. This, in turn, might partly explain why they are at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and strokes. The study aims to examine the long-term effect of antipsychotics on physical health in people-with-SMI and how this might depend on the patient’s age, gender, ethnicity and level of deprivation.

Start / end dates: April 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:

Bethany Bareham

Beth Bareham Newcastle University

Project Title: Understanding co-occurring alcohol and mental health problems amongst older people, and developing holistic, age-tailored and integrated approaches in local primary care and community alcohol and mental health services.

Brief Summary:  I aim to understand how we can support older people (aged 55+) with co-existing and mental health problems within community alcohol and mental health services. To do this, we need to understand the support needs of this patient group and consider how these can be met within services. Most older people using alcohol at harmful levels have mental health problems; where common stresses in old age such as retirement, widowhood, and ill health can trigger anxiety and depression, and drinking to cope. Stresses experienced by older people during COVID-19 have driven further increases in alcohol and mental health problems. Tailored support to meet the specific needs of older people with co-existing alcohol and mental health problems is needed, as these patients currently fall between primary care, alcohol, and mental health services, which are ill-equipped to meet their complex support needs.  

Start / end dates: January 2022 - June 2024

Contact email:

Rhiannon Barker

Rhiannon Barker London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine 

Project Title: Exploring the links between mental health, school exclusion and gang culture from the perspective of young people.

Brief Summary: Children and young people who suffer from poor mental health are at higher risk both of being excluded from schools and of being recruited by gangs. Gangs can have long-term negative impacts both on those directly involved and for people in the wider community. This research privileges the perspectives of young gang involved people and will use a variety of methods to explore the connections between school experience, mental health and the membership of violent gangs. 

Start / end dates: March 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:

Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook Imperial College London

Project Title: Investigating health inequalities in people with alcohol use disorders and type 2 diabetes 

Brief Summary: Alcohol use disorders are mental health conditions related to alcohol. This umbrella term includes both alcohol dependence and harmful alcohol use. Type 2 diabetes is a common chronic condition where appropriate management and treatment is crucial for health outcomes. People with alcohol use disorders have approximately 5 times increased risk of mortality due to diabetes compared to the general population.  

It is important to understand if people with both alcohol use disorder and type 2 diabetes have 1) different health outcomes and 2) experience different treatment and management to people who do not have alcohol use disorder in order to understand if interventions are needed to target health inequalities for people living with alcohol use disorder and type 2 diabetes. 

The aim of this project is to identify whether people with alcohol use disorder and type 2 diabetes have differential health outcomes and treatment/management to people with type 2 diabetes who do not have alcohol use disorder. 

Start / end dates: October 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:

Greg Hartwell

Greg Hartwell London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) 

Project Title: Exploring the commercial determinants of children and young people’s mental health: a qualitative study into the intersecting impacts of vaping and TikTok.

Brief Summary: Sharp rises in rates of depression, anxiety and self-harm have been seen amongst UK teens in recent years. Corporate influences on health, also known as ‘commercial determinants of health’ (CDoH) are key drivers of adult poor mental health and associated inequalities, but have been studied far less in the context of children and young people’s (CYP’s) mental health. Two CDoH areas with potential for considerable mental health harms on CYP specifically are the vaping industry and the social media industry. TikTok’s particularly explosive rise (over 1 billion global monthly users) has been driven by huge popularity with CYP but has received a paucity of research to date. The site’s proliferation of positively-framed videos about e-cigarettes, often fronted by influencers with particular appeal for CYP, means the intersection of these two industries is creating growing concerns for schools and local authorities. This fellowship therefore aims to examine how CYP experience the impacts of the ‘commercial determinants of health’ on their mental health, using the intersection of the vaping and social media industries as a highly topical case study.  

Start / end dates: December 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:

Alexander Hodkinson

Alexander Hodkinson - University of Manchester

Project Title: Quality and safety processes of care for underserved young people with mental ill health and effectiveness of youth suicide prevention programmes in primary care and community settings.

Brief summary: Health inequalities have amplified as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in adolescent mental health services within underserved regions of the country. The quality of health and care services that young people with mental health issues received in primary and community care after their hospital discharge is not known. Also the quality of existing research is not strong enough for policy makers to recommend suicide or self-harm prevention programmes in primary care, schools and the community.  

The focus of my fellowship will be on understanding how to; a) provide high quality safe care to children and adolescents with mental health difficulties when transitioning from secondary care to primary care/social care before and during the Covid-19 pandemic; b) design better youth preventative interventions for suicide and self-harm in primary care and community settings (e.g. education).

Start / end dates: November 2021 - March 2024

Contact email:

Holly Hope

Holly Hope - University of Manchester

Project Title: Using big data to optimise preconception health among women with mental illness.

Brief Summary: This research aims to use routinely collected health data to model the clinical and cost consequence of supporting women with mental health problems to improve their pre-conception health.  Exploiting the power contained within large healthcare datasets, I shall evidence the relative benefit of generic versus tailored and whole population versus targeted approaches. 

Start / end dates: January 2023 - March 2024

Contact email:

Celia Hulme

Celia Hulme - University of Manchester

Project Title: Social Prescribing for Culturally Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) Users.

Brief Summary: Social prescribing (SP) supports health and wellbeing in a non-medical way. It allows primary and social care professionals to refer people to non-clinical activities, social groups, learning opportunities and services that are provided in the community. 

Research has shown that people from ethnic/cultural minority groups do not always benefit from SP because of barriers accessing opportunities that meet their cultural/language needs. Activities and social opportunities within cultural linguistic communities are not well linked to social prescribing. Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users are one such group. There is no evidence that SP is used with Deaf signers despite the high rates of poor mental health amongst Deaf people. The social, health and learning benefits of the Deaf community activities are not integrated with SP frameworks meaning Deaf people miss out. 

Link to YouTube Video Introduction

Start / end dates: August 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:

Ruth Naughton-Doe

Ruth Naughton-Doe University of York 

Project Title: Finding solutions for perinatal loneliness in collaboration with people with lived and practitioner experience. 

Brief summary: This research will find solutions for the related problems of loneliness and mental illness experienced by parents whilst pregnant and the first year after having a baby (the perinatal period). The idea for the research came from my own experience of loneliness and postnatal depression. 

Parents are at increased risk for loneliness, especially in the first-year post birth, and the negative impacts of both loneliness and mental illness can have lasting consequences for parents and their children. Parents who most need support might not be able to find it through not knowing where to look, or not being able to afford the options available. Support should be tailored to a parents’ unique situation, including support for fathers, parents of disabled children, adoptive parents, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) parents, parents from ethnic minorities, parents with disabilities or long-term health conditions, and parents with fewer financial resources. Parents who have felt lonely, and practitioners who have worked with those parents, hold vital knowledge to find solutions for perinatal loneliness.  

Start / end dates: November 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:

Roberta Piroddi

Roberta Piroddi - University of Liverpool

Project Title: LINKed data tools to inform action against Suicide and self-harm (LINKS).

Brief Summary: Every year 700,000 people lose their life to suicide all around the world, making it a major public health challenge affecting every country 

In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50, while it is estimated that 17% of women will self-harm at some stage in their life. It is also estimated that the economic cost of suicide is £6.5B a year. Suicide and self-harm prevention are thus a national priority. 

Suicide and self-harm are preventable, and if there were ways of finding out with more precision who would be more vulnerable to harm themselves, it would be possible to help these people, their families, friends, and communities better. But so far attempts to devise ways to identify people who would need more support have been unsuccessful. Healthcare services also design interventions to prevent suicide, but there is not enough information to ascertain whether they are useful and are reaching those who need it most. 

Start / end dates: December 2021 - March 2024

Contact email:

Ruth Plackett

Ruth Plackett - University College London

Project Title: The benefits and harms of social media use for young adults with common mental health disorders presenting to primary care.

Brief Summary: An estimated 91% of 16-24-year-olds use social media. Evidence suggests social media can have harmful effects on young adults’ mental health but there are potential benefits including prompting help-seeking. Young adults often do not seek help for common mental health problems. However, when they do, they often present to primary care. Further research is needed to explore how social 

media can guide people to seek mental health services and how to support primary care clinicians with young adults’ concerns about social media use and mental health. 

Start / end dates: March 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:

Anna Price

Anna Price - University of Exeter

Project Title: Managing young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in primary care (MAP) study: mapping current practice and co-producing guidance on pathways to improve healthcare for an underserved population.

Brief Summary: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorder. It affects around 5% of children and adolescents, and up to 40% continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. Primary care practitioners (e.g., general practitioners (GPs), nurses, link workers, clinical pharmacists) play an important role in the healthcare of young people with ADHD, particularly due to long waiting times in adult mental health services, and patchy provision of specialist services. However, many practitioners feel unsure about how to support young people at this vulnerable stage in their lives. They report concerns about prescribing ADHD medication and a desire for more guidance. Currently, little is known about how young people with ADHD are supported in primary care, the strengths and weakness of existing care pathways, and how care can be improved.  

Start / end dates: December 2021 - March 2024

Contact email:

Maureen Seguin

Maureen Seguin - London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Project Title: Impact of access to housing on mental health and coping amongst Ukrainian refugees in the UK.

Brief Summary: 

In March 2022, the UK launched the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, which allows Ukrainian refugees to come to the UK and live with UK families for at least 6 months. Though this scheme provides short-term housing, it does not solve the issue of longer-term housing for these (mainly female) refugees. As the war shows no signs of slowing down, it is unlikely that Ukrainian refugees will return to Ukraine soon. From September 2022 onwards, these refugees will need to move to new housing arrangements.  

Ukrainian refugees are eligible for housing support from local councils and are legally able to rent in the private rental sector. However, there are problems with these options. The language barrier makes it difficult to navigate council bureaucracy, making it difficult for refugees to understand what council housing is available. Because of the pervasive shortage of council flats, to avoid homelessness they will likely be placed in hostels or hotel rooms without cooking facilities or sufficient space for children. As many face barriers finding jobs due to the language barrier and lack of recognition of professional credentials, affording rent in the private sector is challenging. Many will rely on universal credit, making them undesirable renters to landlords. Other barriers such as large deposits and a lack of UK work history makes renting difficult. 

Start / end dates: January 2023 - March 2024

Contact email:

Sarah Steeg

Sarah Steeg - University of Manchester

Project Title: Primary and social care service utilisation and needs among people who have harmed themselves.

Brief Summary: Self-harm is a common reason for people seeking help from their general practitioner (GP). Yet there is little understanding of the needs and follow-up care of people seeing their GP for self-harm. In addition, most research on managing patients who have harmed themselves does not specifically consider people’s social care needs. Understanding the health and social care support needed by different groups of people who have harmed themselves, and who gets that support, is important for making access to services more equal.    

In this research I will use information from anonymised health records in Greater Manchester, a region with particularly high levels of mental illness but low levels of research taking place. People’s health and social care needs and their likelihood of being referred to a range of services after seeking support for self-harm will be examined. Findings will be explored by ethnicity, age groups, gender, whether or not other health conditions are present and level of social deprivation. This will help uncover specific health and social care needs of these groups. It will also help us understand unequal access to health and social care services in different groups. People with experience of self-harm, and carers, will be involved in designing the study and making sense of and sharing the findings of this research.   

Start / end dates: January 2022 - September 2024

Contact email:

Laura Warbrick

Laura Warbrick - University of Exeter

Project Title: Development and evaluation of brief GP and IAPT clinician training to improve the care of patients with underlying personality difficulties. 

Brief summary: Some people who have lived through adverse early life experiences go on to have difficulties managing their relationshipstheir emotions and/or their sense of self as adults. These difficulties are sometimes referred to as personality difficulties and sometimes are diagnosed as ‘personality disorder’. People with these problems often have other mental health difficulties, such as depression, anxiety or self-harm. They may seek help from their GP practice and others try to access help from ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) services’. 

IAPT therapists are not routinely trained to help individuals experiencing the complex emotional needs associated with personality difficulties. This can mean that an individual is seen as being “too complex” for IAPT services, yet at the same time “not ill enough” to need help from secondary mental health services. When this happens, the person must look for other sources of support and treatment, often with the help of their GP. However, GPs are not trained to help people with personality difficulties, even though other research has shown that individuals with these difficulties frequently attend primary care services and are costly for the health service to manage. 

This research will evaluate a new training programme designed to improve IAPT therapists’ management of depression and anxiety among people with personality difficulties, and develop a training programme aimed to support GPs to work with individuals with these difficulties more effectively 

Start / end dates: November 2021 - March 2024

Contact email:

Sarah Wigham

Sarah Wigham Newcastle University 

Project Title: DevelOPing a primary care traumA screening tooL and a practitioner/staff training resource on trauma among people with learning disabilities. OPAL Study. 

Brief summary: 

This research aims to work with key stakeholders (people with learning disabilities, relatives, practitioners and community service providers) to:  

1.  Develop a screening questionnaire to identify people with learning disabilities affected by trauma for use in primary care.   

2. Gather data to inform future development of an online trauma training resource for providers of community support/services for people with learning disabilities.   

3. Identify how the trauma screening questionnaire and training can be adopted by regional health/social care pathways for people with learning disabilities.  

Start / end dates: January 2023 - March 2024

Contact email:

Ge Yu

Ge Yu - Newcastle University

Project Title: Emerging eviDence on the impact of COVID-19 on mental hEalth sErvices and health inequalities in highly dePrived communities (DEEP).

Brief summary: It is likely that the pandemic will be responsible for increased demand for mental health services. However, it also provides an opportunity to rethink conventional approaches to mental health services planning to meet these needs for underserved population.   

This project aims to find out what changes in mental health service and their impact on health and wellbeing for patients living in areas of high deprivation. I want to find out which changes worked well and those not so well for people living deprived communities. I will also provide recommendations for practice on how mental health service should be provided post pandemic and what would be a minimum acceptable service for times of future emergency or lockdown. 

Start / end dates: November 2021 - March 2024

Contact email:


Emma Adams

Emma Adams - Newcastle University

Project Title: Evidence synthesis: training, networking, and undertaking a systematic review around trauma, mental health, and homelessness.

Brief summary: People experiencing homelessness often face complex challenges around substance use, mental health and historical or recent trauma. Trauma can be an experience (physical or emotional) that is life-threatening, harmful, or out of the ordinary and has lasting impacts on all aspects of wellbeing. Much of the information we know about trauma within homeless populations focuses on events in childhood. However, there is a need to understand how trauma during homelessness impacts mental health if we want to ensure people experiencing homelessness have access to the right support at the right time. This career development award will seek to bring together all the current evidence on this area. Systematic reviews are often used to bring together information around a specific question and knowing how to conduct them well is key to research career development. This award provides an opportunity to learn about how to conduct systematic reviews, develop networks with researchers across health and social care, and work with individuals who have experienced homelessness to produce a systematic review of qualitative work exploring trauma in adults experience homelessness.  

Start / end dates: April 2022 - June 2023


Ruth Ambrose

Ruth Ambrose - Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust

Project Title: Barriers to accessing physical health care in people with Severe Mental Illness (SMI): A Systematic Review.

Brief summary: People living with severe mental illness (SMI) are one of the most marginalised and disenfranchised groups in society. These conditions have the potential to severely impair functional and occupational activities, increase the likelihood of social exclusion and rank among the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries worldwide. 

There is no clear direction as to who should manage patients with stable SMI, who no longer require the expertise of specialist secondary care services. A number of these patients continue to have a high need for treatment, monitoring and support, despite no longer having acute symptomology and not meeting the high thresholds for community mental health services.  

There is a need to understand patients experiences of having their care solely managed in general practice.  

Start / end dates: June 2022 - September 2023


Stephanie Ejegi-Memeh

Stephanie Ejegi-Memeh - Sheffield University

Project Title: Exploring the role of Black-led community organisations in promoting mental well-being in Black communities.

Brief summary: In the UK, people from Black communities have a higher prevalence of mental health conditions, are less likely to seek help for mental health conditions and are less likely to have their mental health conditions detected by professionals. 

Community organisations often step in where statutory services fail, but their initiatives are precariously funded, rarely documented nor the focus of rigorous research. 

This project aims to: 

1) document the contribution of Black-led community organisations in promoting mental well-being 

2) document the strengths and challenges of Black-led community organisations 

3) explore how to conduct research in equitable and collaborative ways with Black communities 

4) evaluate how Black-led organisations function to promote mental well-being in Black communities 

Start / end dates: December 2022 - May 2024


Clarissa Giebel

Clarissa Giebel - University of Liverpool

Project Title: Determining and managing the specific mental health needs of social care staff and family carers of older adults.

Brief summary: This 18-month Career Development Award involves a study to address the mental health and well-being needs of social care staff and unpaid carers for older adults in the North West and targeted career development to take the next step towards becoming an independent dementia care researcher. The research project will explore the mental health needs of unpaid and formal carers (home and long-term care) of older adults and explore how needs could be met via remote interviews (Work Package 1). I will also conduct four focus groups with registered managers and mental health care professionals to understand care provision and access to paid and unpaid carers. To ensure different experiences and barriers are captured, I will look through an equity lens using the Health Inequalities Assessment Toolkit. I will purposefully sample participants from different socio-economic backgrounds. Work Package 2 involves three co-production workshops to adapt the Schwartz rounds to the mental health needs of different carer groups. This project involves three carers as active team members throughout all aspects of the project. My personal development will involve related training and leadership courses, supporting my career development and applying for external funding to implement the carer Schwartz rounds.  

Start / end dates: April 2022 - September 2024



William McGovern - Northumbria University

Project Title: Exploring the trajectories and mental health needs of individuals recovering from long term problematic alcohol and substance use.

Richard Pione

Richard Pione - Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Project Title: Development and Preliminary Evaluation of a Novel Psychotherapy for Depression for Clients with a Complex Trauma Background (ADepT-CT).

Brief Summary: Depression is an often severe, chronic and relapsing condition. While effective psychological treatments for depression exist, a substantial proportion of individuals do not recover during them. A particular subgroup of clients who do not optimally benefit from current treatments for depression (and often fall in the gap between services) are those exposed to complex trauma during childhood. A novel therapy called Augmented Depression Therapy (ADepT) has been developed to treat depression in primary care settings that has promise for working with this group. In a pilot trial, ADepT was shown to not be inferior and potentially superior to current best practice (cognitive behavioural therapy), particularly in those presenting with severe symptoms.

Start / end dates: April 2023 - March 2024


Catherine Saunders

Catherine Saunders - Cambridge University

Project Title: Developing the evidence base to improve mental health and wellbeing of transgender adults in England.

Brief summary: Primary care supports people across the courses of their lives as their health and healthcare needs change over time. Understanding the primary care experiences of minority groups including those with protected characteristics – those characteristics for which it is against the law in the UK to discriminate against someone, and which include gender reassignment – is important for addressing potential inequalities and allowing the NHS to plan long-term. 

Since 2021, the annual GP Patient Survey conducted by NHS England has included questions about both gender and trans status in its surveys. , analysed 850,000 survey responses received to the 2021 survey, which included over 6,300 responses where individuals identified as either trans or non-binary.  Working closely with patient and public contributors I analysed these data for my NIHR Three Schools Career Development Award 

Trans and non-binary respondents were more likely to be from Asian, Black, Mixed or Other ethnic groups, less likely to be heterosexual, and were more likely to live in more deprived parts of the country. They were also more likely to be younger – just under one in four (23.6%) trans and non-binary respondents was aged 16-34 years, almost double the proportion among other respondents (13.4%). 

After adjustment for age, ethnicity and deprivation, trans and non-binary adults reported higher prevalence for 10 out of the 15 long-term conditions. They were around three times as likely to be living with dementia or to have a learning disability, and twice as likely to be experiencing mental health difficulties. They were almost six times as likely to be autistic. 

Anita Attala

Anita Attala - Teesside University

Project Title: Exploring the views and opinions of Dietitians working in Specialist Adult Weight Management Services in the North-East of England on their skills, knowledge, and service provision for supporting people with obesity and a severe mental illness and/or learning disability  

Brief summary: The research is part of an MRes in Clinical Research.   

There is little training for Dietitians, and other health professionals working in physical healthcare settings, on how to support people with a severe mental illness or learning disability which may lead to poor service provision and stigmatising attitudes and behaviours from staff.   

This study will involve in-depth interviews with dietitians working in Tier 3 specialist adult weight management in the North-East of England and North Cumbria. It will explore Dietitians’ perceptions on how they support people with obesity and severe mental illness and/or learning disability in their services.  

Start / end dates: September 2022 - September 2024


Sonia Filmer

Sonia Filmer - Aston University

Project Title: Facilitators And Barriers to the De-prescribing OBenzodiazepines and Z-drug Hypnotics in patients under 65 on Adult Mental Health Wards (FABOB study).

Brief Summary: Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed group of medicines used to treat anxiety, insomnia and to manage alcohol withdrawal. Z-drug hypnotics are a newer group of medicines which are used to treat insomnia. There is a place for the use of benzodiazepines and z-drug hypnotics on adult mental health wards, but they are often continued beyond a length of time where they are beneficial. This can result in dependence and withdrawal effects if stopped. Regular review of this medication and, if appropriate, reduction in or cessation of prescribing of benzodiazepines and z-drugs is encouraged. However, there is limited evidence available as to what can support or act as a barrier to the review of benzodiazepines and hypnotics on adult mental health wards.

This project aims to understand what barriers currently exist to reviewing benzodiazepines and z-drug hypnotics and to explain what interventions help health care professionals review this medication.

Start / end dates: May 2022 - April 2023


Karen Leeves

Karen Leeves - Queen Mary University of London

Project Title: MSc Public Mental Health

Brief Summary: As I am a part time student, I will be doing my dissertation next academic year. I am hoping to explore the role of trained Senior Mental Health Leads (SMHLs) in Thurrock and their experiences of developing a whole school approach to mental health. This research idea is in response to the “Transforming Children and Young People’s mental health provision: A Green Paper and Next steps” (2017), where the Department of Health and Department for Education is aiming for a Designated SMHL in every school by 2025. 

Start / end dates: September 2022 - August 2024


Julia Mannes

Julia Mannes - Cambridge University

Project Title: Sociodemographic and referral characteristics of social care experienced young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services: a quantitative study of referral decisions and outcomes.

Brief Summary: In 2022, 22% of children and young people in England who received social care assessments (CYPwSW, n=404,310) were characterised as having mental health problems that constituted a primary factor necessitating social work involvement (Department for Education, 2022). Some CYPwSW experiencing mental health difficulties will be referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). These referrals may then be accepted, rejected, or accepted after re-referral.

Currently, there is little information available in the literature about the factors that influence referral decisions. Exploring these decisions is vital on two grounds: understanding access to CAMHS for CYPwSW, and discerning inequalities in this access. This topic has been identified as urgently requiring further research by our experts-by-experience collaborators, and the recent Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (McAlister, 2022). This study will explore how sociodemographic characteristics, referral characteristics, and social care status relate to CAMHS referral outcomes. 

Start / end dates: October 2022 - September 2024


James McLeod

James McLeod - Durham University

Project Title: An examination of the perspectives of older autistic adults about their engagement in physical activity.

Brief Summary: Autistic adults are less likely to be physically active when compared to the non-autistic population. Despite the lower levels of physical activity observed among autistic adults, it is unknown why they are predominantly inactive. Much of the research so far has focused on understanding autistic adults physical activity participation from the perspectives of parents or young or middle-aged adults.

Substantively, there is also a dearth of research that has solely worked with older autistic adults (≥ 45 years) to examine how individuals behaviours, perceptions and experiences and microlevel interpersonal factors interconnect with multi-levels of the environment to influence, hinder or shape PA engagement. In this study 8-10 older autistic adults (at least 45 years old) will be recruited to complete either two in person or online semi structured interviews. The purpose of the study was to move beyond describing the facilitators and barriers of PA participation by examining how individuals behavioursperceptions and experiences and microlevel interpersonal factors interconnect with multi-levels of the environment to influence, hinder or shape PA engagement. 

Start / end dates: October 2022 - September 2023


Nicola Merrett

Nicola Merrett - University College London

Project Title: Understanding young people’s experience of period pain.

Brief summary: Qualitative research on the experience of period pain is limited but growing. This research is important in reflection of the prevalence of period pain and its impacts on women’s (and those assigned female at birth) quality of life both physically and psychologically. Social stigmas surrounding menstruation represent further challenges, where women report to be denied support for their period pain by healthcare professionals, colleagues, and family members. 

My project wants to address a gap in research that has overlooked young people’s experience of period pain and how age might influence accessing care. I will conduct semi-structured interviews with young people aged 16-21 with self-reported period pain. Each interview will explore their history, practices, and attitudes surrounding their period whilst they were aged 13 to 18. Qualitative findings will be used to identify participants health and wellbeing priorities for managing period pain 

Start / end dates: April 2023 - September 2023


Jamie Wong

Jamie Wong - London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Project Title: Deprivationobesity, and mental health in children and adolescents before and after the COVID-19 pandemic: Findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study.

Brief Summary: There has been substantial evidence indicating that mental health has dramatically worsened across the globe after the COVID-19 pandemic, with increased rates of anxiety and depression being seen in the UK and abroad. This has been particularly the case in children and adolescents, especially those living in deprived communities. However, evidence on whether associations between obesity and adverse mental health have strengthened post-COVID remains limited, and whether the deprivation gradient present in these associations has increased requires further research. 

Start / end dates: September 2022 - September 2023


Deborah Caldwell

Deborah Caldwell - University of Bristol

Project Title: How Do We Improve Mental Health Outcomes For Children And Young People From Black Asian And minoritised groups? An Evaluation Of A Community-based Approach.

Brief Summary: A pilot, community-based mental health service for children and young people (CYP) aged 11-17 from black, Asian, and minoritised ethnic backgrounds is being provided in Bristol from March 2022 to March 2024. The pilot service will have a trauma-informed approach and will be jointly implemented by a community youth centre and a third-sector provider of youth wellbeing and mental health support services. Our study is a mixed-method process evaluation of this pilot service. It is hoped that the research will inform the future development and roll out of the service across Bristol. The study will use routinely collected service data, focus groups, and interviews with young people to explore the impact of the pilot service. The study will also interview providers and practitioners to explore their perceptions of the new service. The study acronym is ESTEEM (Enhancing Support To improvE wEllbeing in Minoritised young people​) and was co-produced with the collaborating organisations.

Start / end dates: May 2022 - March 2023


Michelle Farr

Michelle Farr - University of Bristol

Project Title: Changing Futures: Evaluation of trauma-informed interventions to improve mental health and wellbeing of people with multiple disadvantage.

Brief Summary: Changing Futures is a national programme funded by the Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities, which aims to improve the lives of people who experience multiple disadvantage. Experiencing multiple disadvantage is when a person has experienced at least three of the following: 

  • Homelessness 

  • Substance misuse 

  • Mental health issues 

  • Domestic abuse 

  • Contact with the criminal justice system 

Almost everyone with a history of multiple disadvantage has also experienced trauma. This can have a negative effect on their mental health, their ability to engage with services and whether they feel safe to do so. This project will be evaluating the Changing Futures programme in Bristol, which will work with organisations and people with lived experience to: 

  • Improve the way that local services work, so people can access the support they need more easily 

  • Help staff provide fair, accessible long-term services 

  • Promote equality and diversity, and include people with lived experience in designing services 

This project will evaluate how Changing Futures Bristol uses trauma-informed approaches to more effectively support people who’ve experienced multiple disadvantage, trauma and mental distress. Working collaboratively with practitioners and people with lived experience, it will analyse how to instigate system changes to provide more trauma-informed care through multiple services. 

Start / end dates: January 2022 - March 2024


Eileen Kaner

Eileen Kaner / Amy O'Donnell - University of Newcastle

Project Title: Evaluation of the Recovery Navigator Programme in the North East North Cumbria Integrated Care System: A Mixed Methods Study.

Brief Summary: North-East England suffers disproportionately from alcohol harms; a situation which has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. People who come to emergency departments on a regular basis with alcohol problems have multiple support needs, often due to their mental ill-health. However, most have to navigate a complex health and social care system alone when trying to access help. This can be harmful for their health and mental wellbeing. These missed opportunities to provide timely support also cause significant costs to the NHS.   

As part of a wider strategic response, a new Recovery Navigator role is being introduced in 6 NHS Trusts across the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (NENC ICS). Recovery Navigators provide holistic support to heavy drinking adults by addressing what matters to the person.  This can include support with housing or benefits, and crucially helping to guide care across hospitals and local communities.    

Our study evaluates the Recovery Navigator programme’s early delivery and aims to establish how the introduction of new roles has contributed to embedding holistic and co-ordinated alcohol care.   

Start / end dates: January 2022 - December 2023

Project members:

  • Eileen Kaner, Associate Director, Fuse (Newcastle), Professor of Public Health and Primary Care Research, Director NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria. (
  • Amy O'Donnell, Professor of Applied Health and Social Care Research | NIHR Advanced Fellow (amy.o’
  • Emma-Joy Holland

Ceu Mateus - University of Lancaster

Project Title: Experiences of and outcomes for Blackpool adults with enrolled in the ADDER programme who are treated with buprenorphine prolonged-release injection (Buvidal) opioid substitution therapy.

Sarah Sowden

Sarah Sowden - University of Newcastle

Project Title: Mental health IN the Deep EnD (MINDED) pilot evaluation: embedding a clinical psychologist in primary care to improve mental health care for patients living in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged communities within the North East & North Cumbria.

Brief Summary: 

Mental ill-health concerns feature in a third of GP appointments and research suggests many GPs’ high workloads prevent them from providing good-quality mental health care. This issue is even more pronounced in areas of socioeconomic deprivation, which are referred to as GP practices in the ‘Deep End’.  

The ‘MINDED’ pilot intervention, Mental health IN the Deep EnD, is evaluating the feasibility and acceptability, for patients, GPs and primary care staff, of embedding a psychology team into general practice.  The pilot is taking place in 4 general practices in the NENC region, offering patients a 30-minute consultation with a member of the GP-based psychology team.  

The study is the first rigorous evaluation of its kind and will provide discrete case studies of the intervention in each GP practice. 

Start / end dates: February 2022 - June 2024



Martin Webber - University of York

Project Title: Supported Volunteering at the Ripon Museum Trust



 Vashti Berry

Vashti Berry / Kerryn Husk - University of Exeter

Project Title: The use of social prescribing and community-based wellbeing activities as a potential prevention and early intervention pathway to improve adolescent emotional and social development.

Brief Summary: 

This project will extend the growing evidence base around social prescribing in the primary care and public health arenas by focussing on its use for children and young people (CYP), and in particular prevention and early intervention in mental health conditions, which are a key growing concern for primary care, public health and education services. 

Our project examines the use of community-based wellbeing activities for CYP as a potential prevention and early intervention pathway by: 

  • Exploring how social prescribing schemes/pathways operate as a vehicle for assisting CYP to access, connect with and participate in community activities; and 
  • Understanding how diverse types of community-based support can create the conditions to promote adolescents’ healthy social and emotional development. 

Start / end dates: October 2021 - September 2023

Contact email:

Gretchen Bjornstad


Gretchen Bjornstad - University of Exeter

Project Title: Support for Parent Carers in England (SPaCE).

Brief Summary: Parent carers of children with special educational needs or disabilities are likely to have high rates of mental health problems and an unmet need for support and treatment. In addition, parent carers are likely to have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In this NIHR Three Schools-funded project we aim to gain understanding of the prevalence of mental health need, and to map the current pathways to identification, referral, and treatment for parent carers in England.  

We will assess prevalence in three complementary analyses. The first will be an examination of mental health problems and changes from pre-pandemic amongst parent carers of children with SEND in the Mental Health of Children and Young People in England (MHCYP) surveys 2017, 2020 and 2021. The second will be an investigation of the mental health of mothers of children with SEND before and during the pandemic using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). The third will be an examination of the association of factors related to the caring role and mental health utilising survey data from the NIHR-funded Parent Carer Wellbeing Study. 

We will map pathways to identification, referral and support for mental health problems in parent carers in England; triangulating reports from parent carers, and professionals in social care, primary care, and children’s services. Qualitative interviews with parent carers will be conducted to learn about their experiences accessing support for their mental health. 

We hope that this project will provide information about the need and access to mental health services for parent carers, including the impact of the pandemic and regional variation. We plan for this project to lead to further research to develop and test strategies to overcome barriers to accessing evidence-based mental health treatment for parent carers with mental health problems. 

Start / end dates: April 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:

Yu Fu

Yu (Maggie) Fu - University of Newcastle

Project Title: Establishing evidence to inform culturally competent mental health services (EVOLVE).

Brief Summary:

COVID has worsened and deepened the longstanding mental health inequalities for ethnic minorities. Higher levels of anxiety and depression were reported in ethnic minorities across the pandemic, but they had less support from mental health services. This indicates a pressing need to understand what and how changes in using mental health services impact health outcomes of ethnic minorities, so practice will learn what and how services should be provided to satisfy people’s needs.  

This study aims to identify what changes happened to mental health services for adults during the pandemic, and how such changes affected ethnic minority groups. The findings will help the NHS to develop culturally appropriate care that meets the social, cultural, ethical, and religious needs of patients post-pandemic. 

Start / end dates: September 2022 - February 2024

Contact email: /

Judi Kidger

Judi Kidger - University of Bristol

Project Title: Connecting Community Mental Health Support,

Brief Summary:

The NHS Community Mental Health Framework for Adults and Older Adults (2019) sets out a vision for place-based mental health support which integrates primary and secondary mental health services, public health, social care, and the third sector. However, many service users report a lack of integration across current services, and resultant difficulty accessing the support they need in a timely manner. 

This study aims toinform an integrated whole system approach to mental health improvement and reduction of mental health inequalities through improving connections between primary and secondary mental health services, public health, social care and the third sector. 

Start / end dates: January 2022 - March 2024

Contact email:


Rebecca McPhillipsUniversity of Manchester

Project Title: Excluded from Mental Health Services: Characteristics and Barriers.


Emily Oliver

Emily Oliver et al - University of Newcastle

Project Title: WHOLE-SMI: Wellbeing and HOListic health promotion for people with Severe Mental Illness. 

Brief Summary: 

Severe mental illness (SMI), including schizophrenia, bipolar and other conditions, affects about 1 in 100 people in England. In recent years attention is increasingly being paid to how we can better support peoples’ physical health, with reports of how people with SMI die on average 20 years earlier than others in the general population. We know that many of the reasons behind this can, and must, be changed.   

Our research builds on the PRIMROSE programme, that developed and tested services to promote physical health (in particular cardiovascular health risk) in people with SMI. In these studies and subsequent work, nurses, health care assistants and peer coaches supported people living with SMI to identify and change factors that increased their risk of poor physical health (e.g., smoking, weight, alcohol misuse).  

By using surveys, interviews, workshops and observation, our research is examining how we can implement physical and holistic health support to people living with SMI in the North East of England. We are working with healthcare providers, experts by experience, and community service providerto look at what helps and hinders successful service delivery. We will compare approaches with ongoing implementation in other areas of the UK to ultimately identify how best to deliver services so that individuals with SMI can experience better physical and holistic health.   

Start / end dates: November 2021 - March 2025

Project members:

  • Professor Emily Oliver (Principal Investigator) -
  • Dr Ilaria Pina (Research Associate) 
  • Sue Webster (Peer Researcher) 
  • Dan Steward (Research Assistant) 


Mark PetticrewLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Project Title: Commercial Determinants of mental health inequalities: reviewing the evidence on pathways and intervention


Catherine RobinsonUniversity of Manchester

Project Title: Research capacity-building catalyst: Three Schools’ initiative for mental health research.