As the conversation around mental ill health gets louder, there's no doubt that awareness is increasing. But it can be difficult to see how this translates in to positive change in treatment.
The good news is, behind the campaigning, there is also lots of exploratory work being done by researchers to ensure that the momentum gained from this new awareness translates into real mental health support and treatments that are effective in their impact on the population.
As part of the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences,PCMIS is uniquely placed to implement innovative, research-led and evidence based technologies that can benefit both mental health service users and the therapists that support them. The University has a strong portfolio of research addressing the challenges of mental ill-health; its aim being to develop and apply innovative methods to make a difference to care at all levels. Research is demand-led and evidence based, with a clear focus not only on effectiveness of interventions, but on cost-effectiveness and the equitable delivery of care.
For this blog post we thought we’d discuss some examples of the future directions mental health research at York is heading…
The majority of adult mental health problems emerge in childhood and adolescence, and the impact of disorders can be mitigated by early treatment. Researchers in York have identified the need for interventions designed specifically to meet the mental health needs of children.
Children often access help in different ways and a key challenge is to harness different techniques to improve mental health and well-being. For example, Professor Barry Wright has recently been awarded an NIHR grant to carry out a randomised controlled trial of therapy facilitated by the use of LEGO with children who have autism.
A strategic priority at York is to study the impact of life transitions, such as between adolescence and adulthood, and between working age and retirement. The University aims to develop effective interventions to mitigate problems, promote good mental health and reduce the risk of illness.
Digital technology has the potential to increase access and effectiveness of mental health services. York has a strong track record in pragmatic evaluation of digital mental health interventions, for example, PCMIS are currently supporting NHS Digital’s assessment of online therapy tools for psychological interventions.
Future challenges may be addressed by continued interdisciplinary innovation e.g. incorporating research on human computer interactions from the Department of Computer Sciences, and on gaming and mental health promotion in York’s Digital Creativity Labs.
In view of the major disparities in life expectancy experienced by people with mental ill-health, York will design and evaluate interventions that modify the impact of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease for people who use mental health services.
For example, the York-led, NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) funded DIAMONDS programme developed user-centred self-management interventions for people with diabetes and severe mental illness.
In addition to the above, PCMIS is working alongside NHS England and IAPT services to assess the impact of the Long Term Conditions Integrated IAPT trial.