Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico
Mental Health ;

World Mental Health Day 2020 - King's contribution to understanding and treating mental health

On World Mental Health Day 2020, King’s understands the importance of talking openly about mental health and is proud of the pioneering research undertaken every day on campus to prevent and treat mental health conditions and wellbeing. Our world-leading research and community initiatives, together aim to find solutions to some of the challenges faced for people living with mental illness, the services set up to support those individuals, and understanding the causes and treatments of those conditions.

Our world-class Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) produces more highly cited psychiatry and mental health papers in the top 1%, than any other university in the world, with the goal to improve the lives of people with mental health and neurological disorders.

In addition, King’s staff and students have created an array of initiatives to support the King’s community and beyond to ensure the mental health and wellbeing is protected and nurtured. This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day 2020 is: Mental Health for All - Greater Investment, Greater Access and below highlights some of the work in progress at King’s supporting the campaign.

Student Mental Health Research Network

In July this year, it was announced that the UKRI-funded Student Mental Health Research Network (SMaRteN), led by King’s and based at IoPPN, awarded over £75K funding to seven research projects in universities across the UK, focused on understanding student mental health better. The SMaRteN projects aim to address the substantive gaps in the research around student mental health.

Projects have been selected from a diverse range of research areas. They include work at the intersection between education, arts, and humanities including whether engaging with resources around the history of mental health can have a positive impact and how experiential learning spaces impact on student wellbeing.

Three of the funded projects consider peer relationships, through the development of a peer support wellbeing programme, evaluation of the impact of study groups for MSc students and exploration of how an app might help promote social connection on the university campus.

The Impact of the Pandemic on Student Mental Health

Dr Nicola Byrom, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, and Dr Juliet Foster, IoPPN Dean of Education discuss the need for universities to continue to focus on student mental health in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. Nicola founded Student Minds with the ambition of changing the way we talk about mental health in Higher Education.

Today, Student Minds is the UK’s leading student mental health charity and has been instrumental in developing a whole-university approach to mental health and implementing a University Mental Health Charter. Building on her own experience of mental health difficulties, Nicola has always been passionate about nurturing peer support for mental health. She believes we need to do much more to focus efforts on prevention.

Positive Peers

The university’s Students’ Union, KCLSU, offers support through a network of ‘Positive Peers’, a group of student volunteers trained to help their fellow peers thrive and support any mental health challenges they may face. Positive Peers are there to listen to the student community and can help point individuals in the direction of further support provided by the university and beyond.

My Mind Matters too

Meg Zeenat Wamithi, a Politics, Philosophy and Economics student founded the youth-led mental health research and development company, My Mind Matters Too, aiming to support young people living with mental health issues. Meg explains how she has adapted My Mind Matters Too amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Podcast – Our Sick Society

The Centre for Society and Mental Health at King’s College London is hosting a new podcast that will explore how changes in society affect our mental health and help develop communication skills.

‘Our Sick Society’ podcast series features both academics and experts with first-hand experience of mental ill-health as either service users or as caregivers, family members or friends of service users. Together they will explore how the current “epidemic” of mental ill-health is caused and made worse by societal factors.

Each month, the podcast will feature voices from marginalised communities who have experienced mental ill-health, giving them the opportunity to describe how specific social aspects have impacted their life and experiences.

‘Our Sick Society’ is a way to bring to life, in people's own words, how the reality of day-to-day living affects mental health.

We look beyond describing "social problems" to ask, "what can social science research and action do to pursue change?"– Dr Charlotte Woodhead, Lecturer in Society & Mental Health, IoPPN

To stay up to date with the podcast and related materials, subscribe on Soundcloud, or follow @sicksocietypod on Twitter.

Making a difference

Making a difference is at the heart of IoPPN’s research. Research from the IoPPN has led to the creation of much needed therapies for some of the most severe mental disorders and changes in how governments around the world think about mental illness.

Just today, two teams of researchers at King’s, led by Professor Craig Morgan and Professor Sir Simon Wessely respectively, have been awarded over £800,000 in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). These two projects will investigate the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of two particularly vulnerable groups: NHS staff and at-risk young people.

Many other services and initiatives are available to staff and students at King’s and information can be found on King's intranet. 

In this story

Charlotte  Woodhead

Charlotte Woodhead

Lecturer in Society & Mental Health

Simon Wessely

Simon Wessely

Regius Professor of Psychiatry

Craig Morgan

Craig Morgan

Professor of Social Epidemiology

Nicola Byrom

Nicola Byrom

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Juliet Foster

Juliet Foster

Dean of Education

Latest news