Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


MARCH Network: Social, Cultural and Community Assets and Mental Health

The MARCH Network is one of 8 new national networks funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the 2018 Cross-Council Mental Health Plus call to further research into mental health. MARCH focuses on social, cultural and community assets – which includes the arts, culture, heritage sites, libraries, green spaces, community centres, social clubs, community associations and volunteer groups – and the role they play in enhancing public mental health and wellbeing, preventing mental illness, and supporting those living with mental health conditions. There are an estimated 1 million of these assets in the UK.

MARCH is focused on addressing two core research questions:

  1. Cross-disciplinary research and challenges: (a) What evidence is there, from a cross-disciplinary perspective, for how and why community assets impact on public health and wellbeing and the lives of those living with mental health problems, and where are the gaps for future research? (b) How can we use a cross-disciplinary approach to address methodological challenges in researching the impact of community assets on mental health and to provide meaningful data to different stakeholders and users?
  2. Equity of engagement and access innovation: (a) Who amongst the UK population, demographically and geographically, currently engages with community assets and specifically how does participation vary dependent on mental health? (b) What are the current barriers and enablers to engagement at an individual, organisational and policy level and how can we develop innovative approaches to enhance engagement, especially amongst those who are most vulnerable?

To do this, MARCH is working to:

  • Bring together international leaders in mental health and community assets research and facilitate the development of meaningful partnerships with policy makers, commissioners and third sector organisations.
  • Run a series of planned ‘core’ activities (roundtables, consultations and focus groups) to identify and address these identified research challenges leading to four co-produced evidence and methodology reports.
  • Distribute c.£300,000 of ‘plus’ funds for new research projects and activities for identified research gaps.
  • Host a rich portfolio of impact and engagement activities to translate the research findings into policy and practice, and encourage greater public engagement with community assets.
  • Design and deliver a training and support programme to develop cross-disciplinary skills and expertise amongst the next generation of researchers.

Principal Investigator: Dr Daisy Fancourt

Contact: Dr Daisy Fancourt

Collaborators: Professor Helen Chatterjee (UCL), Professor Kamaldeep Bhui (QMUL), Professor Paul Crawford (University of Nottingham), Professor Tia DeNora (University of Exeter), Professor Jane South (Leeds Beckett University) and Professor Geoffrey Crossick (School of Advanced Studies)