Led by the University of York, researchers from the UK, Australia, USA, India and Europe will launch the International Centre for Mental Health Social Research (ICMHSR) on 1 August.
Mental health problems affect one in four people in any given year and present a significant global economic and social burden.
The new centre, based in York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, will help collaboration between researchers investigating the social, economic and cultural influences on mental health and wellbeing. These include employment, housing, care and support, parenting and social networks – factors which affect or are affected by mental health problems.
Dr Martin Webber, an Anniversary Reader in Social Work in York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, is the new Centre Director.
He said: “Treatment for conditions such as severe depression, bi-polar affective disorder or psychosis usually comprises medication or psychological therapy. However, these are often either unavailable – especially in low or middle income countries – or unable to address social problems which contribute to the cause or continuation of serious mental health problems.
“The ICMHSR collaboration will explore the role of social problems in the cause and course of mental health problems and will develop and evaluate innovative ways of tackling them. They will share knowledge across boundaries with the potential for significant global impact.”
Practitioners and service users will play a key role in the collaboration, ensuring that research is practice-focused. The ultimate aim is to enable people of all ages with severe mental health problems to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
The new international centre builds on the work of York’s Centre for Mental Health Social Research, launched earlier this year, and will fund a Research Fellow, a PhD studentship and a centre co-ordinator post.
The ICMHSR, which is funded by the University of York’s Vice-Chancellor Initiative Fund, brings together disciplines as diverse as sociology, psychology, psychiatry, social work and social policy. Its inter-disciplinary nature is intended to strengthen its ability to generate evidence to inform social policy and mental health social practice.
The international centre’s aim is to generate joint funding applications for national and international research, with ICMHSR becoming self-funding after three years.
Activities will include international research projects and workshops, public seminars and lectures, co-supervision of PhD students by international partners and a major international conference.