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Holly Hope

I am a highly cited early career researcher in mental and reproductive health I am committed to designing and delivering research that will be transformative to the lives of people with mental illness. I have presented to policymakers at the Department of Health and Social Care (DoHSC), and am a member of the DoHSC’s Perinatal Mental Health Steering Group, as it develops a “fingertips” perinatal mental illness tool. During the pandemic I was able to contribute to the important work of understanding the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and mental health services, collaborating with researchers across the UK to deliver the most highly cited research in this area, internationally. In January 2021, I co-authored a chapter in a report titled “The Covid Generation submitted to the All-PartyParliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood.   

When not researching I love to go climbing with my kids, or enjoy a craft beer at my husband’s brewery tap! 

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 healthExploiting the power contained within large healthcare datasets, I shall evidence the relative benefit of generic versus tailored and whole population versus targeted approaches. 


First, I shall, conduct and umbrella review to assimilate evidence on the effectiveness of interventions that can reverse risks known to associate with poorer pregnancy and health outcomes for women with mental health problems, for example smoking cessation and weight loss interventions and interventions to increase folate uptake. 

 Secondly, I shall construct a cohort of women aged 14 to 45 years, using primary care data and describe the number of women with mental health problems who smoke, are overweight or obese and are prescribed folate prior to pregnancy. Linking with hospital episodes data I shall calculate the absolute health burden among women with mental health problems and their children associated with each reversible risk. Informed by clinical effectiveness estimates from the umbrella review I shall model the health benefit of implementing preconception health interventions for women with mental health problems and their offspring. 


My fellowship is informed by the lived experience of women with mental health problems and will culminate in a PPI workshop where the findings will be disseminated and discussed. 

Benefits anticipated:

Academically, this work will bring new understanding of the population effects if we were to improve health among some or all people entering pregnancy with mental illness.  

My hope, is this work will challenge convention and support policy changes to improve preconception health among  underserved populations in effective and non-stigmatising ways. 

Award Title: Mental Health Fellowship

Start date: January 2023

End date: March 2024

Location of Research: Manchester

Collaborating Organisations: GM CRN