Research with the potential to change the lives of millions around the world suffering with mental illness has received a boost with the announcement of £42.7m of government funding.
Clinicians and scientists at the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), are playing a key role coordinating the Mental Health Mission which will build on the BRC and the NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (MH-TRC) to increase research capacity across the country.
The government announcement is designed to promote national collaboration across different sectors to bolster research and attract further investment from industry and research organisations. It follows on from the priority healthcare missions launched last year as part of the Life Sciences Vision and forms part of a suite of life science policy announcements made today.
The NIHR MH-TRC, hosted by NIHR Oxford Health BRC, played a leading role in securing the £42.7m funding in a national effort to ramp up mental health research infrastructure across the UK and accelerate the discovery of effective new treatments for mental illness via the Office for Life Sciences Mental Health Mission.
Major funding has been awarded to two demonstrator sites in Birmingham and Liverpool with further significant funding awarded to the University of Manchester.
Oxford University visiting Professor Husseini Manji will be co-chair of the Mental Health Mission alongside Professor of Psychological Medicine at The University of Manchester Kathryn Abel.
Professor Manji and Professor Abel said:
“We are delighted to be working together to make the new Mental Health Mission a truly revolutionary force behind mental health research. We want the Mission to create tangible differences to the lives of patients, both in the UK and internationally. Between us, we bring a wealth of experience in mental health research and innovation, and a commitment to genuine collaboration with patients, industry and healthcare staff.
Bringing together the public sector, patients and industry as equal partners, the Mission will work with the Office for Life Sciences and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to support the NHS and NIHR to capitalise on its size and scope, and on the depth of its data resources. Alongside additional investment in mental health research and infrastructure, the Mission will foster a step change in the way we think about mental health, mental illness and its treatment. This will support development of the critically needed treatments across the spectrum of mental illness.
We want the UK to be the most attractive place to conduct robust, high impact mental health research, ensuring people have access to the best, and newest, treatments. We are confident that the Mission will be unique in its ability to convene and challenge national partners to make this happen.”
Dr Nick Broughton, CEO of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“This unprecedented extra investment in mental health research in the UK is going to help revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and change the lives of millions around the world.
“There has been a huge leap forward in the global research community’s understanding of the brain and the genetic roots of these disorders over recent decades. Our clinicians and scientists are at the forefront of this.
“The Mental Health Mission will build on Oxford’s leading role to create the national research infrastructure that we need to make major breakthroughs in the treatment of devastating conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and children’s mental health. We are delighted to be working with researchers across the country to make this a reality.”
Professor John Geddes, Director of the Oxford Health BRC, said: “The Mission builds on to the huge recent investment into mental health research in the NIHR biomedical research centre competition, recognising the exceptional strength of UK research in this area. The Mission extends the research infrastructure across the whole UK, ensuring that all patients and populations can benefit from being offered the chance to participate in research.
“The successful award is based on huge collective effort from researchers, clinicians, patients, charities, research funders, regulators, industry working with the Office for Life Sciences and NIHR – we are hugely grateful to everyone and look forward to ensuring the Mission has major impact, benefiting the UK and the world.”
The BRC was awarded £35.4m in government funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) last year to help deliver a breadth of life-changing innovations in brain health.
The NIHR is the UK’s largest funder of health and care research.