This session focussed on policy-relevant research on a range of topics. Four projects commissioned by the DHSC were presented, giving an overview of the wide variety of work conducted by academic and lived experience researchers at the MHPRU, and a sense of the challenges involved in conducting research to inform policy making. Dr Nafiso Ahmed and Dr Anna Greenburgh gave the first presentation on a systematic review investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and mental health services in high-income European countries. Second, Dr Rebecca Appleton and Dr Phoebe Barnett presented research about social interventions for people with serious mental health conditions, which scoped models and evidence in this area, to feed into the DHSC Mental Health Strategy. Sharon Eager next presented work on a systematic review currently in progress at the MHPRU, reviewing literature on the economic costs associated with loneliness, as well as reviewing evaluations of interventions to reduce loneliness. The final presentation was given by Merle Schlief on a research project examining ethnic differences in receipt of psychological interventions in early intervention in psychosis services in England.
These presentations can be watched here.
Professor Bryn Lloyd-Evans hosted a panel discussion for the second component of this policy research session, bringing together experience from clinical practice, academia, lived experience and policymaking. Raza Griffiths (LEWG) reflected on how people with lived experience help research to achieve meaningful change to policy in the face of a complex and dysfunctional mental health system. Next, Professor Steve Pilling, head of the UCL Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology department, outlined some important factors in attempting to translate evidence into policy, including being open to scrutiny, being clear about outcomes and long-term value, and targeting key decision-makers. Alison Cobb, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, discussed how voluntary organisations influence policy, and the role of research in this work, in particular with regards to key insights from people with lived experience. Viral Kantaria, Chief of Staff to the NHS England Chief Operating Officer, spoke from his previous experience as a policymaker in the mental health field about what policymakers want from research, such as bolder recommendations from academics. Finally, Professor Sonia Johnson, Director of the MHPRU, reflected on what has worked well and what has been challenging over the course of the six years of timely and actionable policy-relevant research at the MHPRU.
This panel discussion and consequent questions from the audience may be watched in full here.