Survivors History archive
saved from the international web archive for 8.12.2003

See Mental Health Research Network

Mental Health Research Network

Mission statement: "to provide the infrastructure to support large scale, high quality research in mental health and social care which has implications for services and treatments"

The About MHRN page was not archived until 2004. It is shown as:

"Updated 15-June-2004 by the MHRN IT Co-ordinator"

About MHRN page

Mental Health Research Network

The MHRN is a standing programme of the National Institute for Mental Health for England (NIMHE). It is managed jointly by the Institute of Psychiatry and the University of Manchester.

The Network provides a unique opportunity to widen participation within mental health research and help reshape mental health practice with evidence. Fulfilling a coordinating role, it provides the infrastructure to support high quality mental health and social care research throughout England. Through hosting research into priority areas for mental health policy, the MHRN represents an important long-term commitment to mental health research.

The MHRN comprises

18 Universities,

26 NHS Trusts,

more than 40 PCTS,

research expertise in primary, secondary and social care,

many disciplines including social sciences and health, economics

17.8 million people (35% of the population of England).

These are within 7 research hubs which have clinical, academic and service user components. The clinical component consists of primary, secondary and social care and the academic component is a mix of high quality multi- disciplinary researchers from universities and research consortia. In addition there is a Service User Research Group for England (SURGE) which supports service user involvement in projects run on the network.

About the MHRN Why do we need a national research network? What will the Network do? What are the benefits offered by a national Network? What does the MHRN consist of? Network structure Service users and carers How can I run a project on the Network?

[There was a presentation (pdf file, 178KB) about the structure and format of the MHRN that has been archived]

Why do we need a national research network?

Until now mental health research has not led or supported practice development. Reliance on small, localised studies has prevented researchers from drawing valid general conclusions. To date there has been little or no active involvement of those at the front line, the service users and carers.

As a result, research has failed to inform policy, lacking coherence, relevance and crucially credibility with users and professionals. Without an efficient infrastructure, research findings suffer poor dissemination. Poor integration of resources, experience and expertise has meant that mental health research has been unable to attract the valuable support from major funding bodies that it deserves.

What will the Network do?

The principal aims of the MHRN are:

To organise and deliver large-scale research projects to inform policy and practice as it develops, and to help services implement change.

To broaden the scope and capacity of research, including full involvement of service users and carers in commissioning and delivering research.

To help identify the research needs of mental health (particularly in health and social care), working with frontline staff, service users and carers.

To develop research capacity through a range of initiatives at a local, regional and national level.

The Network hosts research but does not fund individual projects. Researchers seeking funding for projects should apply through the usual channels such as the MRC, Wellcome Trust, SDO and HTA.

The MHRN supports high quality research that will remain useful over time, connect research to practice and ultimately improve the quality of treatment and care for people using mental health services.

What are the benefits offered by a national Network?

As a coordinated, managed network, the MHRN:

provides instant access to a number of clinical and academic centres, each providing research expertise combined with a large patient base and diverse demographics.

brings together research and providers of mental health and social care services.

offers a broad scope, covering all mental health disciplines including forensics, CAMHs and Older Adults.

offers support and guidance on research governance issues, data protection and ethical matters.

coordinates the management of all subcontracts to individual centres for each project that the Network hosts.

What does the MHRN consist of?

Network structure

Service users and carers

Network structure

The Network comprises:

Research Hubs which represent differing geographical and cultural bases,


Research Groups which are the creative drive for the Network.


Research Hubs

The Network currently involves five Research Hubs which represent differing geographical and cultural bases. Each is a collaboration between academics, clinicians, and those involved in health and social care.

The Research Hubs provide the essential infrastructure for the Network, coordinating the recruitment of patients, participants or clinical teams for the large-scale research studies 'adopted' by the Network.

Why participate in an MHRN Research Hub?

Benefits of sharing knowledge and best practice in research governance and good clinical practice.

Potential for participating organisations / groups to extend their research portfolio through involvement in large-scale projects running on the Network.

Opportunities for developing and cementing relationships between NHS and academic organisations throughout the country.

What are the benefits of using the Hubs?

Each Research Hub has the infrastructure to recruit patients to trials running on the Network, and should be well placed to repond to requirements quickly.

North West Hub
Universities of Manchester and Liverpool

Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Hub
Universities of Cambridge and East Anglia

Heart of England Hub
led by University of Birmingham

West Hub
Universities of Bristol, Bath, West of England, and Peninsula Medical School

London Hub
led by Institute of Psychiatry and South London & Maudsley NHS Trust



Complementing the work of the Hubs, and further strengthening the service user input, is the support network SURGE: the Service User Research Group in England.

SURGE is responsible for encouraging collaborative efforts between service user and clinical academic partners in the large research studies that are run on the MHRN.

The work of SURGE includes supporting users and academics in good practice collaborations, developing the capacity of service users to be involved in research, as well as encouraging service users in leading project proposals.

The contract to host SURGE was awarded to Strategies for Living at the Mental Health Foundation, supported by

Professor Peter Beresford, Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Centre for Citizen Participation, Brunel University

Dr Jan Wallcraft, Fellow for Experts by Experience at NIMHE

Shaping our Lives (SOL), the National User Network

Survivor Researcher Network (SRN)


Our research

What research is adopted by the MHRN?

An Adoptions Committee, a sub-committee of the Advisory Board, considers the suitability of proposals to run on the MHRN. For all projects, the feasibility of running the study on the Network is an important consideration. Proposed projects are assessed against the following principles:

is there evidence of service user input in the development of the proposal?

is the proposal in line with national mental health policy?

is the proposal free of both major ethical and design flaws?

Proposals should also meet one of the following criteria:

The proposal requires multiple centres because of a need for:

a large sample size, or

recruitment of participants with a rare conditions, or

recruitment of participants from a particular group or lifestyle

The proposal is a cluster-randomised trial, requiring multiple centres or units of randomisation.

The proposal requires multiple centres in order to establish whether a finding or an intervention is a valid generalisation across different settings or is applicable in specific settings (for example, rural areas).

How are the projects funded?

All projects must be in receipt of grant funding before being given final approval by the Adoptions Committee to run on the Network.

However, agreement in principle can be given to projects in advance of a funding decision and the MHRN will notify the grant-awarding body of its support for the project.

How do I apply to have my project run on the Network?

Applications to the Adoptions Committee can be made using the MHRN Adoptions Form.


Current projects

There are currently three projects hosted by the MHRN:

Outcomes of Involuntary Hospital Admissions

Principal Investigator: Professor Stefan Priebe

Funding body: PRP


The study will provide empirical evidence about the practice of involuntary hospital admissions and their outcomes in England. It will benchmark outcomes of involuntary hospital admissions for different patient groups and in different contexts, and identify what patient characteristics and processes are associated with more or less positive outcome.

The study will be conducted at four sites that represent different regions across England and different types of catchment areas including those characterised as inner-city, suburban and rural areas, in addition to ethnic mix. A total of 616 sectioned patients will be assessed within one week of admission and followed up four and twelve weeks later. Clinical staff will also be interviewed about practice and events of coercive treatment. Most interviews will be conducted by service user researchers.

The main outcome is patients' retrospective assessment of involuntary treatment; secondary outcomes include satisfaction with treatment, clinical change and quality of life. Patients' socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, their initial assessments and practices of coercion are the putative independent predictors. In addition, a better understanding of the processes leading to different outcomes as viewed by users, will be explored using qualitative analysis of interviews in a subgroup of patients.

An evaluation of motivational interviewing plus cognitive behaviour therapy for schizophrenia and substance misuse

Principal Investigator: Professor Christine Barrowclough

Funding body: MRC


Substance misuse in schizophrenia is high and this dual diagnosis is associated with many poor outcomes including increased hospitalisations. Despite these problems, the evidence base for specialist interventions with dually diagnosed clients is limited. This study is a multi-site evaluation of an individual patient care intervention for dually diagnosed patients. Patients with schizophrenia and a drug or alcohol abuse or dependence problem will be recruited as inpatients or outpatients and, following stratification on factors believed to be predictive of treatment participation or outcome, will be randomly allocated to receive either Motivational Intervention and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy treatment in addition to standard psychiatric care or standard care alone. The intervention will aim to match the focus of treatment to the patient's motivation to change substance misuse and to the relationship between the substance use and the psychosis in a formulation driven approach.

The trial allows for flexibility in the number and duration of sessions taken up by clients with all patients offered up to 24 sessions of MI plus CBT over 40 weeks with 2 booster sessions at 45 and 50 weeks (12 months treatment phase in total). Blind and independent assessments will be conducted at baseline, end of one year treatment period and at two year follow up. The primary hypothesis to be tested is that the intervention will result in a significant reduction in hospitalisations. Secondary outcomes are changes in substance use, symptomatology and number of relapses. A health economic study will also be conducted to assess the wider costs and benefits of the intervention.

National study of mental health professionals' information sharing practices with carers of persons with mental health problems

Principal Investigator: Professor Peter Huxley

Funding body: SDO


This collaborative project between Rethink and the Institute of Psychiatry aims to identify current information sharing practices between carers and professionals in mental health and develop a model of good practice that is widely applicable for multidisciplinary use. The research involves carers, service users and professionals and has 3 main stages:

1) policy and literature searches

2) a brief survey made widely available to the three stakeholder groups, and

3) one to one interviews.

An Expert Panel supported by a wider Virtual Panel has been appointed to inform the research outcomes.


Research Groups

MHRN Research Groups have been established in priority areas identified by the Department of Health.

What is the purpose of the Research Groups?

To supplement the work of the Research Hubs, providing the creative drive of the Network.

To develop a programme of research to facilitate understanding of key scientific issues, as well as developing evidence for effective practice.

To date, two MHRN Research Groups have been established in the following priority areas:

Early Intervention



Who's who in the MHRN?

at the Institute of Psychiatry:
Director: Professor Til Wykes
Manager: Jane Lawrence
Administrator: Caroline Essex

at the University of Manchester:

Deputy Director: Professor Max Marshall
Administrative Coordinator: Joanne Ashcroft


Contact us

either by post:

Mental Health Research Network
PO Box 88
Institute of Psychiatry
Kings College London
De Crespigny Park

or via e-mail: