Scientists from the University of Edinburgh will help create a new data hub for mental health research.
The UK-wide hub – called DATAMIND – aims to help scientists perform research faster, helping to improve the lives of people with mental health problems.
According to the experts involved, DATAMIND will overcome some of the key challenges of mental health research, such as the inclusion of the worst-affected patients. It also has the potential to improve diagnosis, treatment and wellbeing for people experiencing psychiatric conditions.
The digital resource will operate across the four nations of the UK, bringing together expertise from the NHS, universities, charities, and the pharmaceutical industry.
Scientists and doctors at the University of Edinburgh form part of the senior leadership team and will lead Scottish efforts to combine UK-wide health datasets, ensuring that patients, families, and healthcare providers quickly gain from new knowledge.
Edinburgh academics will also lead on the future sustainability of the hub.
Professor Andrew McIntosh from the University of Edinburgh’s Department of Psychiatry said: “The University of Edinburgh is proud to be a partner in this initiative, which will focus on including disadvantaged and excluded groups of people affected by mental disorders. In other words, the most severely affected people and in greatest need of help.
“This investment in mental health data science will strengthen our capacity to support mental health research, building upon previous UKRI mental health data science investments and MQ’s early work in bringing the UK’s mental health data science community together.”
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Mental ill-health is the biggest cause of disability for people living in the UK, but research shows that people living with a mental illness are less likely to take part in research than other conditions.
This means that some studies do not have enough participants to draw strong conclusions and often do not represent those with the worst symptoms.
The DATAMIND hub will overcome some of these issues by securely bringing together existing data from diverse sources, including NHS healthcare records.
Backed by a £2 million investment from the UKRI Medical Research Council, DATAMIND will join an established network of Health Data Research Hubs, led by Health Data Research UK (HDR-UK) and funded through UKRI’s Industry Strategy Challenge Fund.
Co-Director of DATAMIND, Professor Ann John from Swansea University, noted: “We’re really excited about DATAMIND. By working together with the public, patients, researchers, industry and the NHS we will transform both our understanding of mental health and the lives of people experiencing mental health problems.
“We will create a Hub where researchers and others can find and use mental health data to benefit patients and the public and improve care.”