A guest blog in Mental Health Today celebrates the recent Department of Health boost in funding to mental health research.
The award gives a significant share – £12.8 million – to Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford to create a new NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, placing the Trust at the heart of an exciting new era of treatment discovery for mental health disorders.
“The UK is extremely good at research into mental health. And now there is better news: the Department of Health recently announced a 5-year funding package for health research of £816 million – the largest ever such investment – of which about £80 million is going to mental health.”
“You could be forgiven for not knowing either of these facts, because research into mental health problems doesn’t get much publicity, much like anything else connected with mental health. But it’s worth taking a look at what this involves, because it paints a picture that is at odds with some of the popular misconceptions around mental health in general and psychiatrists in particular.”
“The Royal College of Psychiatrists has already been working hard to show the positive impact of research in psychiatry and psychology, and also where new developments in neuroscience might take us. And I have recently written on how psychiatry and mental health professionals help the society at large. This latest announcement, however, takes this a step further.”
“So how is this new money going to be spent? Some of it is assigned to two Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) uniquely focused on mental health and dementia, Oxford Health and the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Trusts. In addition, there are mental health and dementia research themes within larger BRCs in Bristol, Cambridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham and University College London. This is the time to look at what the science of psychiatry and mental health will do in the future. And the future is bright.”
“Precision is the buzzword in psychiatry now, and for a reason. For too long, doctors and patients have struggled with medications that work only in 50-70% of people, and are prescribed using a ‘trial-and-error’ approach. Efficacy of psychological therapies is probably in the same range, although we know very little about why some patients respond and other don’t. Future research will specifically validate psychological and biological markers for what we call ‘stratification’ (grouping patients together according to how they might respond to specific treatments, rather than guesswork), and matching the right treatment to the underlying pharmacological or psychological problem.”