Boost for mental health research in Newcastle

People with mental health conditions are set to benefit from a £42.7 million government investment into research across the UK – which will also benefit research in Newcastle.

The ‘Mental Health Mission’, part of the government’s Life Sciences Vision, aims to accelerate research across the UK and attract private investment to potentially benefit millions of people

This funding will be used to bolster research to improve the treatment and care for those with mental illness and to address key issues affecting patients and clinicians today, including early psychosis and mood disorders which are currently under-researched.

The funding will be distributed to researchers through the NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (MH-TRC), in which one of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre’s (BRC) lead researchers is involved.

Professor Hamish McAllister-Williams is joint lead for the Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) workstream in the MH-TRC.

He is Professor of Affective Disorders at Newcastle University, as well as a Consultant Psychiatrist and Deputy Medical Director for Research at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW).

He is also co-theme lead for the NIHR Newcastle BRC’s dementia, mental health and neurodegeneration theme.

Professor McAllister-Williams said:

“I’m thrilled to be involved in this initiative and look forward to driving forward improvements in the treatments for patients with mental illness.

“Currently, a ‘Care Pathway Enhancement (CaPE) clinic’ for dementia patients is being set up in the CNTW NHS Trust, with the aim of enhancing the care of patients with mood disorders, as well as providing an opportunity for such patients to take part in research.

“The clinic is also providing opportunities to trainee psychiatrists to improve their research skills, as well as helping GPs and primary care staff to enhance their expertise in the management of difficult to treat mood disorders.”

Professor Avan Aihie Sayer, director of the NIHR Newcastle BRC, said: “In our latest BRC award we were honoured to welcome CNTW as a formal partner for the first time. Their world-leading research in Lewy Body Dementia and mood disorders already has a real impact on patient care.

“Professor McAllister-Williams’ expertise and knowledge will only strengthen our ability to study the effects of mental illness in older people with multiple long-term conditions (MLTC) – and his involvement in the Mental Health Mission is testament to his research excellence.”

CEO of NIHR and Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Lucy Chappell adds: “Mental ill health affects many people. This investment in the Mental Health Mission aims to deliver a truly exciting range of innovative therapies and technologies that could greatly improve people’s lives.

“And in the true spirit of collaboration, the work has intentionally been spread across the country so that more people are able to participate in world-leading mental health research than ever before.”

Mental-Health Translational Research Collaboration

The MH-TRC brings together NIHR infrastructure, Universities and NHS organisations to undertake high-quality early and experimental medicine research in mental health. This collaborative approach strengthens the expertise and reach of the MH-TRC and ensures research involves patients and the public who better reflect the diversity of the population.

The Life Sciences Vision, published in July 2021, set out a proposal to make the UK the most attractive place in the world for Life Sciences Innovation. The Vision included priority healthcare missions for the government to solve in partnership with industry, the NHS, academia, and research charities.

The Mental Health Mission was launched in November 2022, to grow the Life Sciences sector and address the unmet need for innovative new mental health treatments and technologies.

The NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is the only BRC of 20 across England that is dedicated to the study of ageing and multiple long-term conditions (MLTC). ​It was awarded £23.1m in government funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)  last year to help transform lives through world-leading research in ageing and MLTC.

The NIHR is the UK’s largest funder of health and care research.

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) and Newcastle University are both part of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners (NHIP). NHIP is one of eight prestigious Academic Health Science Centres (AHSCs) across the UK, bringing together partners to deliver excellence in research, health education and patient care.

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