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Innovative new solutions to improve mental health treatment

Two thirds of people living with a mental health condition in the UK are not receiving treatment.

Treatments remain stubbornly hard to access. And the ones that are available don’t work effectively enough – meaning every day, too many people are left in the dark without the support they need.

At MQ, we believe that research has a vital role in tackling these challenges.

Last week, we announced our new 2016 Fellows – talented scientists who are offering exciting new approaches to improve mental health care.

One of those researchers is Dr Claire Gillan at Trinity College Dublin, who’s using the internet in a novel way to explore how we can personalise treatments – so we can move away from a ‘trial and error’ approach to mental health care.

Starting with a focus on antidepressants, Claire is creating a tool that uses artificial intelligence to calculate how effective a certain treatment will be for someone.  To gather the large amounts of data needed to create the tool she’ll ask people beginning antidepressant treatment to share information about themselves online – and take part in online tests to track their symptoms.

Using the internet like this offers huge opportunities for research to truly capture real-life experiences and transform our understanding of mental illness.  And ultimately, it could help us ensure millions of people receive the right treatments at the right time. 

At the University of Minnesota, Dr Patrick Rothwell is also taking a fresh approach – looking at how strengthening brain connections could help us get better targeted treatments.

Rather than trying to directly reverse things that go wrong in the brain because of mental illness, his research is exploring how we can encourage the brain to compensate and develop stronger connections – potentially improving behaviours like attention.  His research could inform ways to make the brain more resilient, helping us to improve treatments and even create new ones.

These are just two of the exciting Fellows projects we’re funding – all exploring new solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face in mental health.   

They offer hope for much-needed improvements in the way we understand, treat and prevent mental illness. And demonstrate the true potential for mental health science to transform lives.

Last updated: 26 July 2017

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