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Mental health research matters

I write this blog wearing a few ‘hats’ – which considering temperatures across the UK are still low is no bad thing. That is something fortunate about my work, there is a lot of variety. Like helping MHRUK allocate funding to institutions that will support PhD students to progress their studies and contribute learning to support people affected by mental health problems. I’ve been a Trustee of MHRUK for a few years and I started the facilitation of the scientific committee in 2022. This is the body which awards the funds that our hard-working donors provide to us. And it is a privilege to work alongside academics and people with lived experience to allocate these awards, as well as our brilliant volunteer Jyothika Kumar who administers the whole process. We heard a couple of months ago one of our scholars Niamh McSweeney has submitted her PhD and won a 'Good Research Citizenship' prize - at the Good Research Practice Awards ceremony in Edinburgh. We support the next generation of mental health researchers to make a difference to the lives of those affected by mental health problems, and this is a step in that direction!

I also run a mental health charity – the McPin Foundation. This is also a privilege as I get to work with inspiring colleagues on projects like #MentalHealthResearchMatters. And this is not just a slogan. It has been a project we have developed and delivered with the support of UKRI and eight mental health research networks across the UK. A focus was six-week digital campaign and webinar series (see here for some video and pod-cast outputs) at the end of 2022. A key part was encouraging people across the sector to engage and amplify with their own messages. Here is one from Prof Mike Owen, Chair of MHRUK. The campaign brought together people from across the UK to share their research work and explain the impact it has been having on people’s lived experience. We asked young people why mental health research matters (see summary here) – relating to giving people a voice, gaining better understanding, improving services and treatments, and reducing stigma. We have also just produced a campaign impact report which has links to blogs and webinars – do take a look. Research gives us hope that things can be better for the next generation. Inequalities were a really strong theme in this campaign work – and something MHRUK seeks to address including the funding of a new PhD at UCL and current call for scholarships in 2024. Inclusive research is also vital, alongside centering the expertise of people with mental health problems. The campaign film is going to be used by MHRUK in its own work to spread the word #mentalhealthreseearchmatters – do take a look at let us know what you think!

Vanessa Pinfold

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