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 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.