In its ‘Life Sciences Vision’ report, the UK government shared plans to make the UK the most attractive place in the world for Life Sciences innovation.
Working with the NHS and the Life Sciences sector, the plan sets out ambitions to build on the UK’s world class science and research capabilities, ensuring the NHS uses the latest innovations and creates a prime environment for companies to invest and grow.
These plans were summed up in a set of ‘priority statements’ – also known as ‘Missions.’
The Mental Health Mission will increase capacity in mental health research through the provision of relevant training and creation of better systems to support industry led research and investment across the UK. Specific focus will be paid to addressing both areas of unmet need and high burden of mental illness.
The MHM will provide approximately £10m to two demonstrator sites, Birmingham and Liverpool, as well as the NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (MH-TRC) developed national Work Streams for an aligned mental health workforce in:
- Capacity development and training
- Data and Digital
- Children and Young people’s mental health
- Early psychosis
- Mood disorder
Particular focus will be paid to addressing barriers in research and supporting the development of new industrial partnerships whilst at the same time enabling testing and trialling of interventions in locations of significant need.
A dedicated team will work to ensure that commercial companies regard the UK as an ideal location in which mental health research and clinical trials can be conducted.
Ultimately, the MHM will provide a sustainable and research-ready environment that is able to support the pace and scale of mental health research required to address current needs.
The MHM will address the significant unmet need for innovative new treatments and technologies, through deepening the understanding of mental ill health, and using this knowledge to advance the development of new therapies and products.
Aims of the Mission
- To partner with industry to accelerate the development of new interventions to diagnose, monitor and treat mental ill-health.
- Identify, and solve, the problems that currently slow and disincentivise research- research capability, patient recruitment and contracting.
- Build on existing centres of research excellence to extend research capacity across the whole UK, particularly in areas with high prevalence of mental illness.
- Establish the UK as the place to conduct innovative mental health research by bringing together the UK research base, full national NHS coverage and partnership with industry and regulators.
The request for approval to fund the mental health mission was submitted by the MH-TRC and confirmed in February 2023 by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The proposal was funded in full approx. £42m over five years (phase 1)
Phase 1 of the Mental Health Mission will be overseen and managed by the MH-TRC reporting to NIHR / DHSC
Demonstrator site 1 – Liverpool: Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre (M-RIC)
Centre Lead Professor Nusrat Husain
Position: Research Director, Chair in Psychiatry
Institutions: Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust (MCFT), University of Manchester (UoM), University of Liverpool (UoL) (Hon. Professor)
Centre Co-lead Professor Iain Buchan
Position: Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Chair in Public Health & Clinical Informatics
Institution: UoL, MCFT (Hon. Consultant), UoM (Hon. Professor)
The Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre (M-RIC) will improve service users’ access to clinical trials and to continuous improvement of services with more embedded research, driving better mental health outcomes in a sustainable partnership between Liverpool City Region (LCR) residents, NHS, local government, third sector, university and industry partners.
The University of Liverpool and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust have teamed up to create the first ever M-RIC where service users co-design the innovations they need and want, alongside health professionals, researchers, industry partners, and public advisers.
The Centre will be awarded £10.5 million of government funding from the Office for Life Sciences and the National Institute for Health and Care Research. The funding is part of the national ‘Mental Health Mission’ which aims to accelerate mental health research through a UK network of leading investigators called the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration which includes M-RIC in Liverpool.
Demonstrator site 2 –Mental Health Mission Midlands Translational Centre
Centre Lead: Professor Rachel Upthegrove
Position: Professor of Psychiatry and Youth Mental Health
Institutions: University of Birmingham, Birmingham Early Intervention Service, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.
Centre Co-Lead: Professor Steven Marwaha
Position: Professor of Psychiatry
Institutions: University of Birmingham, and Specialist Mood Disorders Clinic, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Foundation Trust.
To accelerate regional mental health research capacity and re-engage industry with initial focus on new precision interventions for Early Psychosis (EP) and Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) within the context of a young, superdiverse, deprived population.
Birmingham NHS Trusts come together with the University of Birmingham and Academic Health Science Network in Birmingham Health and will include Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT). BHP leads one of UK’s ‘Life Science Opportunity Zones’ to boost industry engagement aligned to the Life Sciences Vision, including the £225million co-development of Birmingham Health Innovation Campus (BHIC).
Birmingham has a super-diverse, young population with extremely high levels of deprivation and mental health morbidity. Recent investment via the Oxford Mental Health NIHR BRC award will increase Birmingham-led discovery science in Molecular Targets, Depression Therapeutics, and Children and Young People.