On 10 October, World Mental Health Day, NIHR co-lead and Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty set out NIHR’s mental health research goals for 2020-2030. Professor Dame Til Wykes, Vice Dean (Psychology & Systems Sciences) and Professor of Clinical Psychology and Rehabilitation at IoPPN, and NIHR Maudsley BRC Patient and Carer Involvement and Engagement cluster lead, was key in the development and setting of these four goals.
Led by the Department of Health & Social Care, the four goals have been developed collaboratively by people living with mental health conditions, funders of mental health research including UKRI, Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Mental Health Research UK, Wellcome and MQ, as well as academics and clinicians.
We needed direction for our research and these Mental Health Research Goals for the next ten years provide high level measurable targets. Measurement is vital as this will remind us how far we have travelled towards the goal and highlight areas for changed investment– Professor Dame Til Wykes
The four NIHR mental health research goals for 2020-2030 announced are
- Goal 1: Research to halve the number of children and young people experiencing persistent mental health problems.
- Goal 2: Research to improve understanding of the links between physical and mental health, and eliminate the mortality gap.
- Goal 3: Research to develop new and improved treatments, interventions and support for mental health problems.
- Goal 4: Research to improve choice of, and access to, mental health care, treatment and support in hospital and community settings.
These research goals derive from recommendations in the 2017 Framework for Mental Health Research and the development of research priorities (ROAMER).
ROAMER is a project funded by the European Commission to create a coordinated road map for the promotion and integration of mental health and well-being research across Europe, where Professor Dame Til Wykes also was lead author of their paper Mental health research priorities for Europe.
Mental health research is important in both driving innovation in current mental health care and in bringing hope for the future. Research improves our understanding of the causes and risk factors for mental health problems, supports promotion and prevention initiatives helping people to stay well, underpins the development and evaluation of new forms of support and provides evidence on how innovative approaches can be put into practice in the healthcare system and in wider settings– Professor Chris Whitty
In his announcement, Professor Whitty also added “I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has contributed. Throughout the process, and latterly, the work has been predominantly led by Professors Dame Til Wykes DBE FMedSci, Professor Peter Jones FMedSci and Professor Cathy Creswell. I would like to thank these three colleagues and many other contributors for their tireless work.”
Research going forward will be in partnership with the life-sciences industries, charities, the NHS, voluntary, social and independent health care sectors. More details of the research goals are available on the Academy of Medical Sciences website.