About the Network

The network is led by Professor Sonia Johnson and Dr Alexandra Pitman, both from the UCL Division of Psychiatry, as part of a team of co-investigators and a co-production group

The network was launched in December 2018, and was one of eight UKRI-funded researcher networks. It is currently funded by the NIHR BRC. The funding will be spread over the next five years, from 2023 to 2028, and will bring together researchers, health practitioners, charities, people with lived experience of mental ill health, and other organisations to address important mental health research questions. Researchers include clinical researchers, psychologists, social scientists, neuroscientists and specialists in the arts and in digital innovations. The Network is intended to greatly accelerate the pace of research on loneliness and social isolation in mental health. Our focus is in loneliness among people with severe mental health conditions. Topics we are interested in include:

  • how mental health and social connections relate to each other
  • whether tackling loneliness is a potential way of improving the mental health of our population
  • how to reduce loneliness among people living with severe mental health problems.

We have got together a network of researchers, third sector,  and practitioners from different backgrounds (including charities working in this field), and people representing those with lived experience of loneliness and social isolation. We will be conitnuing to grow this network.

In this time, we will be:

  • Mapping the evidence that is already available and the research in progress in this area
  • Identifying research priorities, including those of people with relevant lived experience
  • Providing funding for small projects
  • Bringing together collaborative groups to begin developing larger projects
  • Aiming to support development of the research workforce in this area, especially researchers who are early in their careers and researchers with relevant lived experience.

We will be scoping current evidence and on-going work, identifying research priorities, and providing seed-funding for small projects. Our aim to is to better understand the direction and nature of the links between loneliness and social isolation and mental health problems, and to plant the seeds for work to reduce the burden of mental ill health by reducing loneliness and social isolation. 

The network is supported by third sector and policy partners, including Wellbeing Enterprises CIC, the Campaign to End Loneliness, the Bromley By Bow Centre, Social Spider CIC, the Mental Elf, and Public Health England.

You can read the highlights from our Midway Survey here.