Introducing the Centre for Mental Health Social Research
Since I came to the University of York I have been working with colleagues on establishing the Centre for Mental Health Social Research. I am very pleased to announce that we are now up and running.
The Centre brings together researchers with social science and mental health expertise at the University of York. We have diverse interests but in common we bring a social science perspective to the study of mental health and well-being. Drawn from the Social Policy Research Unit, the Centre for Housing Policy and the academic section of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, our members are leading and working on a variety of different projects and share expertise in social science research methods – both qualitative and quantitative – and an appreciation of relevant social theory.
To my knowledge, this is the only research centre dedicated to improving our understanding of the social perspectives in mental health. We know that social, economic and cultural factors contribute to mental well-being and support recovery from mental distress, though intervening to ameliorate these are not a priority for mental health services or social policy.
The Centre for Mental Health Social Research aims to utilise social theory and other knowledge in the social sciences to examine social, economic and cultural factors affecting mental health. It will utilise this knowledge to develop and evaluate interventions which can address these social problems to ameliorate distress and improve mental health. The Connecting People Study is an example of this, whereby we have used social capital theory to develop an intervention model which we are now evaluating in a national pilot study with the aim of improving individuals’ social connections and mental health.
The Centre for Mental Health Social Research engages with disciplines as diverse as sociology, psychology, psychiatry, social work, social policy and gerontology. Its inter-disciplinary nature strengthens our ability to generate evidence to inform social policy and mental health social practice.
The Centre recognises the importance of subjective perspectives on mental health and well-being. It values the contribution of people with lived experience of mental distress to its projects and aims to collaborate with user-researchers when possible. Above all, the Centre seeks to undertake high quality social science research which addresses important unanswered and under-acknowledged questions about social perspectives in mental health.
The Centre for Mental Health Social Research is hosting a seminar series at the University of York which is open to anyone to attend. The aim of the seminars are to stimulate discussion about on-going and completed research within the Centre, or related to it, and to inform both policy and practice. The first seminar will be given by Dr Liz McDermott on 14th May from 12.45pm to 1.45pm on methodological advances in researching youth self-harm. Further information is available here. If you are coming from outside the University of York, please contact the Centre Administrator, Tracey Hawkes, who will show you where the room is located.
More information about the Centre for Mental Health Social Research can be found by following the links below:
To receive updates about the work of the Centre, please follow us on Twitter @YorkCMHSR.