Exeter’s Mood Disorders Centre part of £42m national mental health research funding

A psychological research, assessment, treatment, and training centre for people in the South West who suffer from depression is set to be part of a major new national project addressing issues surrounding mental health and illnesses.

The Mood Disorders Centre at the University of Exeter is one of several centres of excellence around the country collaborating on the new Mental Health Mission (MHM), which has been launched with £42m of government funding.

The MHM will work to increase the amount of mental health research being conducted in the UK by providing training and developing better systems to support industry-led and NHS-led research and investment. The project will also focus on key areas of mental illness that have unmet patient need or carry a high burden.

The Mood Disorders Centre – a collaboration between the NHS and the University’s Department of Psychology – will work with other universities, led by Oxford and Newcastle, on the mood disorder workstream of this programme, and will liaise closely with University colleagues in the NIHR School for Primary Care Research and NIHR Exeter Biomedical Research Centre.

Professor Barney Dunn, Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, and co-lead of the Centre, said:

“The Mood Disorders Centre has been conducting pioneering research around developing and evaluating mental health treatments for many years and has been able to offer life-changing therapy to people in the region thanks to our close working partnerships with the NHS Devon Integrated Care Board, Devon Partnership NHS Trust, and the Devon Mental Health Alliance.

“This new award will allow us to further expand and extend this remit, working with other national centres of excellence to help develop more effective treatment for conditions like anxiety, bipolar disorder, perinatal depression, and complex PTSD, allowing us to further establish ourselves as a regional centre of excellence and help regional NHS services innovate and enhance their mental health offerings.”

Professor Edward Watkins, Professor of Experimental and Applied Clinical Psychology and fellow co-lead for the Mood Disorders Centre, added:

“Through this research and our partnerships, we have been able to develop evidence-based enhanced treatments for difficult-to-treat depression, including those that are now recommended by NICE such as rumination-focused CBT and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

“This new project will enhance our ability to develop innovative psychological interventions, extend their dissemination and training, provide capacity for large-scale research trials and find ways to increase access to evidence-based treatment, especially for those who have historically been poorly served.”

The £42m funding – of which £465,000 will be awarded to Exeter – comes after the UK government, in its ‘Life Sciences Vision’ report, shared plans to make the United Kingdom the most attractive place in the world for Life Sciences innovation. To achieve this goal, the government is funding demonstrator sites in Birmingham and Liverpool as well as NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (MH-TRC) national work streams, of which the Mood Disorders Centre at Exeter is a part.

The Mood Disorders Centre