Mental Health

We’re working to expand mental health research and capacity in our region.


This includes supporting researchers and practitioners working in key areas of mental health concern –  such as homelessness, suicide prevention, emergency care and mental health in schools.

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The North East and North Cumbria region has some of the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, poor health and early death, in England.

We also have the third-highest rate of common mental health problems for adults in the country, and a high incidence of severe mental health conditions.

The region also has the highest rates of adolescent self-harm and the highest levels of heavy alcohol use and substance-related deaths in the country.

As an Applied Research Collaboration (ARC), we have a strong focus on early intervention to prevent mental health problems, as well as supporting those most in need – who often experience multiple deprivation and marginalisation.

Applied mental health research is embedded across our ARC and integrated deeply in our work.

We support colleagues delivering research linked to mental health – including substance misuse, maternal and child mental health, early intervention support for mental health issues, and more.

We’ve also supported more than 20 mental health research projects in our region, through our Open Funding Competitions and Rapid Funding Calls – more details are below.

New funding to further strengthen mental health research across our region

In 2022, we secured an extra £750k of funding from NIHR for applied mental health research across the region.

The funding is part of a wider NIHR investment to expand mental health research in under researched areas and high in need groups, which will see more than 100 new mental health projects in areas of unmet need, across the country.

The initiative has a focus on regions and groups where mental health research is most needed, including children and young people, ethnic minorities and people with pre-existing physical health conditions.

We were awarded the maximum amount of funding available from this scheme, which will be used to expand mental health research capacity and capability in our region.

It will also be used to fund a number of new Mental Health Research Fellows linked to our ARC.

Supporting mental health research where it’s needed the most

Work will include supporting researchers and practitioners working in key areas of mental health concern in our region including homelessness, suicide prevention, emergency care and mental health in schools.

A major part of the plan will be to set up a mental health special interest group (mSIG) across the region, which will join up researchers with practice partners and public members, to help develop an integrated approach to mental health research and care delivery.

The funding will also be used to strengthen existing mental health research capability in the North East and North Cumbria, by supporting closer working across areas of expertise in addictions, public health mental health, health inequalities, and behavioural science.

We hope that this work will improve mental health care and outcomes across several key areas, including supporting more effective self-care and early intervention; better support for people with long-term mental health conditions to reduce distressing symptoms; and better support for those at risk of immediate harm – so we can reduce the burden on acute services and speed-up recovery.

Partners from across the region will work together deliver the programme. Key collaborators include the region’s two mental health trusts – Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear (CNTW) NHS Foundation Trust and Tees Esk and Wear Valley (TEWV) NHS Foundation Trust, alongside the Integrated Care System (ICS) for the North East and North Cumbria.

Supporting research projects with a mental health focus

Below are some of the projects we’re currently funding or supporting which have a focus on, or are closely linked to, mental health:

  • An evaluation of the implementation of a Nutrition and Body Mass Index Clinical Link Pathway in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Services – the impact on data recording, intervention planning and staff experiences – led by Teesside University.
  • Developing policy and practice guidelines for working with young people aged 18 and under in relation to self-harm, suicide attempts and deaths by suicide – led by Teesside University.
  • An exploration of therapeutic horticulture and agriculture as supports for vulnerable young people’s wellbeing – led by University of Cumbria.
  • Co-production of an evidence-based framework and related guidance for practitioners on personalised risk management and safety planning for adults experiencing suicidality – led by the Integrated Care System (ICS) NENC and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear (CNTW) NHS Foundation Trust.
  • An evaluability assessment of BoroManCan: working with local communities to improve men’s health and wellbeing in Middlesbrough – led by Newcastle University.
  • Evaluating the implementation of whole school approaches (WSAs) to improve mental health and wellbeing in the Trailblazer schools – led by Northumbria University.
  • The impact of an interactive film-based intervention on resilience, mental wellbeing and help-seeking attitudes in young people (14-18) at school settings in Cumbria and the North East of England: A mixed-methods cluster randomised controlled feasibility trial – led by University of Sunderland.
  • Understanding the implementation of ‘Making Every Contact Count’ (MECC) delivered by healthcare professionals in a Mental Health setting: A pragmatic process evaluation – led by Northumbria University.
  • Co-production of a brief decision aid to support engagement of services users and primary care practitioners in shared decision-making discussions about options for digital mental health interventions – led by Concern Group (CVS).
  • 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 – led by Newcastle University.
  • Identifying the barriers and facilitators for people with severe mental illness and/or learning disabilities for PErson Centred Cancer Screening services (PECCS) – led by Northumbria University.
  • Digital therapies for psychosis clinic: a real-world implementation study – led by CNTW NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Assessing the impact and cost effectiveness of a community-centred approach to public health on mental health and wellbeing; a co-produced, mixed methods study – led by Edbert’s House, Gateshead.
  • Understanding the complexities of reach and gatekeeping in suicide prevention training within disadvantaged localities in West Cumbria – led by University of Cumbria.
  • Understanding the mental health impact of transitioning to clinical practice during the COVID-19 pandemic for newly qualified doctors, nurses and paramedics – led by Newcastle University.
  • Girls’ experiences of mental health and wellbeing support in alternative education: Sharing best practice and communicating needs – led by Northumbria University in partnership with South Tyneside Council.
  • Heroin Assisted Treatment Intervention (HATI): A qualitative exploration – led by Teesside University.
  • Tackling the health inequalities experienced by people with a learning disability who are homeless – led by Northumbria University.
  • Supporting access to more parent-infant relationship teams in under-served areas – led by Newcastle Univerity and the Parent Infant Foundation
  • An evaluation of the 5Ps+Plan (Formulation) in Northumberland – led by Northumbria University.
  • Improving outcomes for children and young people with an intellectual disability in mainstream schools: facilitating early identification and support – led by NEAT Academy Trust.
  • Understanding and addressing the cycle of housing instability for people with intellectual disabilities in NENC: A whole systems evaluation of knowledge equality – led by Newcastle University.
  • Improving access to perinatal mental health in under-represented groups/informing the design of accessible perinatal mental health services for people experiencing disadvantage – in partnership with the Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) funded by the LMNS and Perinatal Mental Health Clinical Network.
  • Do employers feel that ‘one size fits all’ bereavement training helps create compassionate employers and public facing organisations, or are bespoke packages required? – led by Newcastle University in partnership with St Oswald’s Hospice
  • ‘Mental Health in the Deep End’: Evaluating a new pilot to place clinical psychologists within general practices serving some of the most disadvantaged communities in the North East and North Cumbria (MINDED project) – led by Newcastle University in partnership with the Deep End GP Network NENC

We are also involved in the following mental health-linked projects as part of our work to lead the NIHR ARCs National Research Consortia for both Prevention and Inequalities.