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Bethany Bareham

I am an early career researcher with a background in health psychology. My research activities have been focussed upon promoting mental and physical well-being amongst older people by understanding harmful alcohol use, and how it can be addressed amongst older adults. My research to date has had a primary care and public health focus. 

Award Title: Mental Health Fellowship 

Start date:  January 2022

End date:  June 2024

Location of Research: North East and North Cumbria (NENC) 

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.  


A qualitative study to understand the lived experiences of older people (aged 55+) with co-occurring alcohol and mental health problems and their support needs; ensuring the voices of this marginalised group are at the heart of developed responses.   

Workshops with patients and primary/social care and community alcohol/mental health practitioners, to co-design holistic, age-tailored, integrated approaches within integrated care systems, drawing on established intervention development approaches.  

Research is co-produced with peer researchers with lived experience of co-occurring alcohol and mental health problems in older age; as well as North East/North Cumbria Integrated Care System and With You. We have received an award for these ‘Collaborative Involvement’ activities from the NIHR Mental Health Research Incubator.    

This research is conducted in the North East/North Cumbria, which sees the highest levels of alcohol-related harm in England whilst also being relatively underserved in terms of mental health research.  The project is funded by NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North East/North Cumbria and a Newcastle University Tilly Hale Award (supporting PPIE), in addition to this personal fellowship award.  

Benefits anticipated: 

Co-production of protocol for novel initiatives in primary care/alcohol/mental health services to support older people with co-occurring alcohol and mental health problems.  

Guidance for practitioners for supporting older people with co-occurring alcohol and mental health problems.  

Plans to secure further funding to pilot these developed initiatives, where patients in the region have the potential to benefit from being part of trials of these novel approaches. 

Potential to improve access to appropriate support amongst a population who currently fall between services and are left unsupported.  

Upskilling peer researcher group in co-production/qualitative research