Mental health

Researching how to improve mental health in society by developing new treatments, improving treatment safety and enhancing research access and participation.

Two people are sat at a table, holding hands while they talk

Mental illness is the UK’s leading cause of disability. Most adults with mental health problems start having difficulties in childhood or adolescence. Treatment provided at this time could have a significant impact on their future. However, many young people find that current prevention and treatment strategies don’t work for them. This means we need to develop new, more appropriate, treatments and interventions. Many people with mental illness are unable to access the health care they need or get involved in research that may help them, and we must try to improve inclusion.

Our priority within the theme is to work on improving mental health in young people (up to age 25) and underserved groups. To do this, we are developing and testing new biological and psychological interventions in these target groups. We are using population-based, genetic and proof-of-concept clinical trial studies to help us identify and validate new therapeutic targets for mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders and dementia. We are focusing on improving information on treatment safety where there is not enough data from clinical trials, for example, in relation to pregnant women. We are co-producing strategies to increase trial recruitment in underserved groups. For example, this means working with people with neurodevelopmental conditions such as autistic spectrum disorder, who may not have been able to take part in trials before.