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8 Mar 2022

New funding to strengthen mental health research across our region

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New funding will strengthen mental health research across our region

The NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) has secured an extra £750k of funding 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.

The North East and North Cumbria region has the third-highest rate of common mental health problems for adults in the country, and a high incidence of severe mental health conditions. It also has the highest rates of adolescent self-harm and the highest levels of heavy alcohol use and substance-related deaths in the country.

The ARC North East and North Cumbria has been 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.

Supporting mental health research where it’s needed the most

Work will include supporting early career 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 key part of the plan will be to set up a mental health special interest group 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.

Professor Eileen Kaner, Director of the NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria, said: “We have a significant mental health burden in our region, much of which is inextricably linked to poverty and poor health. This extra funding will allow us to expand our research capacity and focus our resources where they are most needed – with the aim of improving care and wellbeing for people living with mental health conditions, including children and young people.

“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.