07/06/2004

Mental health research gets £5m funding boost

People with mental health problems are set to benefit from a £5 million funding boost for mental health research and the creation of the first ever Mental Health Research Network, it has been announced today.

In March, Health Secretary John Reid announced an extra £100 million per year by 2008 set out in the budget for research and development (£25 million in each of the next four years over and above inflation), will be used to fund research into new medicines for children, and for the treatment and cure of Alzheimer's, stroke, diabetes and mental health.

The Network will receive £1 million every year over the next five years. This funding boost will bring combined government spending on medical research to £1.2 billion by 2008.

The Network is designed to help raise the standard of mental health and social care research in England by acting as a central resource for clinicians, researchers, carers and people with mental health problems with an interest in participating in research. The Network will increase the scale, range, and timeliness of mental health research, the government said.

Current research projects include support for carers, a study of service users views of the current Mental Health Act and an overview of trials of psychological treatments for people with schizophrenia and substance misuse.

Speaking at the official launch of the Network at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, Health Minister Rosie Winterton said: "Funding for mental health research has not reflected the size and scale of the problem. Research is vital if we are to improve NHS services for mental health patients. A huge amount of good work is going on but it currently lacks co-ordination and a strategic overview.

"This £5 million funding will help to create a Network that represents a real coming of age for mental health research in this country for the benefit of people with mental health problems."

Research priorities for the Network will be determined by a wide-scale consultation process, which will begin later this year. This will be informed by the views of service users and their carers, researchers, front-line staff, health services and social care managers and commissioners, the minister said.

The Network will be managed by the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London and the University of Manchester.

(gmcg)

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