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University of York Launches New Centre for Mental Health


1:47pm 2nd April 2013

The University of York has launched a new centre to help collaboration between researchers investigating the social, economic and cultural influences on mental health and wellbeing.

The Centre for Mental Health Social Research aims to help people of all ages with severe mental health problems to lead healthy, fulfilling lives, by carrying out high quality research focusing on the social environment in which people live.

Mental health and wellbeing are among the most significant issues confronting society on a global scale with one in four people affected by a mental health problem in any given year. The most commonly diagnosed forms are depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality and eating disorders.

Numerous aspects of people’s lives affect or are affected by mental health problems, including employment, housing, poverty, care and support, parenting, social networks, social inequality, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, health and disability.

The new centre, based in York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, will bring together established researchers investigating these and other related areas of people’s lives.  

Dr Martin Webber, an Anniversary Reader in Social Work in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, is the new Centre Director.

Dr Webber said: “The Centre for Mental Health Social Research is composed of researchers aiming to have a marked impact on policy and practice in the UK and beyond. Engaging with disciplines as diverse as sociology, psychology, psychiatry, social work and social policy, the inter-disciplinary nature of the Centre strengthens its ability to generate evidence to inform social policy and mental health social practice.

“Studies have shown that social, economic and cultural factors contribute to mental wellbeing and support recovery from mental distress. For example, we know that social support helps people to recover from depression and that people from an ethnic minority group are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with psychosis in the UK. The social, economic and cultural environment in which we live is crucial to our mental health and wellbeing, though it is currently not a priority for mental health services or social policy.”

The new centre will allow members to exchange ideas, discuss on-going projects and generate new research income. It will shortly be expanded to include researchers from other York departments.

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