Brain Sciences


UCL academics lead new programme to improve mental health in disadvantaged communities

23 February 2022

Professor Peter Fonagy (Division of Psychology & Language Sciences) is co-leading a new programme to improve mental health research for disadvantaged communities.

Photo of Peter, smiling at the camera.

‘Mental Health Research for All’ is a three-year programme funded by the National Institute of Health Research that aims to tackle barriers to mental health and care research participation for underserved staff and communities living with mental health conditions in East London and Essex.

Professor Fonagy is co-leading the programme alongside Dr Jenny Shan (UCLPartners) and Professor Rosalind Raine (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health).

Evidence shows that communities living in the most disadvantaged areas of England have some of the highest numbers of people affected by poor mental health. People living in parts of East London and Essex experience higher rates of mental health conditions, serious mental illness and suicide compared to the rest of the country. However, they are less likely to use mental health services, have poorer access to high-quality care, and are underrepresented in mental health research.

A key aim of the programme will be strengthening the capacity and capability among staff working in NHS Trusts, local government, public health, social care and community care.

Professor Fonagy said:

“This is an important achievement for “levelling the playing field” within the current mental health research landscape. Patients and staff should have equal opportunity to benefit from research, no matter where they are, their social circumstances or their diagnosis. This research will enable us to identify where barriers to research occur and, crucially, how we may be able to overcome these”.