social icon

Establishing evidence to inform culturally competent mental health services (EVOLVE)

People image

Establishing evidence to inform culturally competent mental health services (EVOLVE) (2022-2024)

Funder: The NIHR Three Research Schools, £172,082

Principal investigator: Dr Yu Fu, School for Public Health Research (SPHR), Newcastle University, and ARC NENC Research Fellow.


  • School for Primary Care Research (SPCR), University of Manchester
  • School for Social Care Research (SSCR), University of Manchester
  • Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear (CNTW) NHS Foundation Trust
  • North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS)
  • Health equality for ethnically minoritised communities (Haref)
  • Ethic Health Forum (EHF)
  • The project is also supported by the NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria

About this project

COVID has worsened and deepened the longstanding mental health inequalities for ethnic minorities. Higher levels of anxiety and depression were reported in ethnic minorities across the pandemic, who however had less support from mental health services. This indicates a pressing need to understand what and how changes in using mental health services impact health outcomes of ethnic minorities, so practice will learn what and how services should be provided to satisfy people’s needs.

This study aims to identify what changes happened to mental health services for adults during the pandemic, and how such changes affected ethnic minority groups. The findings will help the NHS to develop culturally appropriate care that meets the social, cultural, ethical, and religious needs of patients post-pandemic.

How it will be carried out

This study was developed with people with lived experience. We will focus on ethnic minorities with mental health difficulties who live in the selected areas that have a larger proportion of ethnic minorities in North East and Greater Manchester.

We will examine studies to see what changes to mental health services and models of care have happened during the pandemic. We will use information and data collected by the NHS before, during, and after lockdown in some areas where a large proportion of ethnic minorities live, to compare changes in service use and how changes affect people. We will also talk to people with lived experience to explore what worked well during the pandemic and how they define a high-quality service.

A list of effective and acceptable services and positive features of service provision will be identified. Patients, lay people, professionals, and commissioners will rate how important these services/features are. The results will be discussed with all stakeholder groups to make recommendations on how mental health services should be provided and what would be core ingredients for culturally appropriate care. This will lead to potential future research investigating the impact of recommended services and features on people with different health conditions where mental health is common comorbidity or sequelae.


A formal report will be widely shared with all stakeholder groups including individuals and organisations in ethnic minority communities, patients with mental health, service providers, and commissioners. Social media platforms and webinars will be used to engage key stakeholders and share emerging findings. Reports, academic publications, presentations at local, national, and international conferences will be produced.