The Round-Up – May 2021

Good afternoon, and welcome to the second ever edition of the Round-Up. It’s fantastic to have you back with us.

The Round-Up logo

‘Nature’ is this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme, and as I write this the sun is peeking through the clouds and a gentle breeze is rustling through the trees outside of my window. Hopefully wherever you are you have had a chance to step outside and take some time for yourself, whatever that may look like.

It’s been a bumper month over at the UKRI networks (I get a feeling I’ll be saying that a lot) and we have enough news to rival the Queen’s speech. So buckle up and let’s get stuck in…

Come together (you know the one…)

It warms your author’s heart when the networks come together and collaboratively work on a project – and this month this has happened in abundance. I need a Gaviscon.

Alongside a number of researchers, senior members of the UKRI network ecosystem including Professor Dame Til Wykes from SMarTeN, Professor Simon Gilbody from Closing The Gap, Professor Sonia Johnson from the Loneliness and Social Isolation Network, Professor Cathy Cresswell from Emerging Minds as well as our very own Vanessa Pinfold have collaborated on writing a paper describing the consultation process that the Chief Medical Officer underwent in order to produce the nation’s first ever set of Mental Health Research Goals. You can read the full paper Shared goals for mental health research: what, why and when for the 2020s here.

Another member of the Impact and Engagement team has also got in on the action here – our team lead, Professor Elaine Fox, writes a commentary outlining how the ethos at the heart of the network ecosystem is a good place to start if we are to achieve the aforementioned goals. Take a read here.

The team over at TRIUMPH also published a commentary on the paper. You can read that one here.

“Greater involvement of children and young people in research and intervention development will lead to a greater impact more relevant to their mental health experiences”


Clear your calendars, for there is not one but two (!) cross network events on the horizon:

  • On the 25th of May at 3 o’clock, Loneliness in the Time of Covid-19 is being held by Closing the Gap, Loneliness and Social Isolation network and MARCH. These three networks are joining forces to paint the current portrait of loneliness in the UK. Visit our events page for further info on how to sign up.
    • Yours truly, alongside fellow team member André Tomlin (aka the Mental Elf), will be supporting with some live tweets so make sure to follow the Mental Elf on twitter so you don’t miss anything.
  • And another cross network event on loneliness is planned for the 9th of June – this one brought to you by the Loneliness and Social Isolation network, TRIUMPH, Emerging Minds and SMaRteN. This two-hour workshop looks at addressing loneliness in emerging adulthood. Head to our events page for further details and information on how to register
    • There is a priority setting survey available until the 31st of May, the results of which will feed directly  into this event – you can complete the survey here. It only takes 5 minutes.

As if that wasn’t enough, we have several more exciting items for your diary:

  • VAMHN continue to excel at providing ECR support. If you are an Early Career Researcher, make sure that you have lunchtime on the 26th of May blocked out so that you can attend their grant writing workshop. Further details can be found here on our events page
  • Likewise, SMaRteN continue their Virtual Lab Group for Early Career Researchers – every Wednesday morning they discuss research plans, talk about papers and hear from guest speakers. To join, please email the network lead at
  • MARCH are gearing up for a 2-day online conference on the 2nd and 3rd of June called Creative Lives: Tackling Inequalities. This investigates how creative health approaches and social prescribing can be used to connect and communicate life through generations. Register for this fantastic event here.
  • One of eNurture’s (now completed) funded projects is organising a two-day symposium on the 2nd and 3rd of June around gaming and mental health, hosted by the University of Leicester, and featuring keynote speakers including Professor Sonia Livingstone. Register here.
  • Members of eNurture are also involved in the Cambridge Public Health Annual Showcase 2021 on the 18th of May, so add it to your diaries!

The Writings on the Wall

Closing the Gap have had a busy month. Highly notable is that they have been featured in a new report by the House of Lords Covid-19 Committee, on the topic of people with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) being at an increased risk of being unable to access digital healthcare services throughout the pandemic. This is based on findings from the network’s OWLS study, with Dr Emily Peckham, network co-ordinator, stating that ‘digital inclusion is something we feel strongly about and have been talking about since the start of the pandemic’. Great work.

Firing on all cylinders, Closing The Gap have also published a commentary on the digital divide (read here), and a paper on smoking in people with SMI during the pandemic which found that it is likely that smoking inequalities have become further entrenched. Read the full paper and it’s results here.

And new research highlighted by SMaRteN – a report coming out of Australia identifies proactive approaches and inclusive strategies to support students’ mental wellbeing. The research focused on mature-aged students in regional and remote Australia; but the findings, recommendations and guidelines are applicable more broadly. Read more about this research here.

Speaking of research, TRIUMPH have provided their Youth Advisory Group (YAG) with a £16,000 budget to complete their own research that fits with the network themes and priorities. The YAG are going to focus on how professionals working with young people understand and support young people’s multiple intersecting experiences and identities. A really exciting endeavour, and definitely one which your author will be keeping a close eye on.

Watch / Listen / Read / Enjoy

Cancel your Amazon Prime subscription and throw that book you are reading out of the window – the networks have you covered this month. The volume and quality of digital content being released is enough to knock your hat off.

Unfortunately, this blog post has just come out just after two fantastic VAMHN events so your author is unable to direct you towards registration pages – but fear not! Zoom recordings, once again, save the day.

  • The excellent ECR Lunchtime Seminar Series continues, with Wednesday 12th’s event focusing on Juggling Expectations.
  • And hot on its heels was an event on the 13thDeveloping the evidence base on what works for children exposed to violence, exploring the evidence and practice challenges associated with understanding what works to prevent or limit harm to children, following their experience of domestic abuse.

The TRIUMPH network are producing a brand new quarterly research newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox. Every 3 months, they will be sending out summaries of new research in the areas of their core themes. The first edition went out last week, and there are some fascinating pieces in there. One that particularly stood out to your author is the research which explores how sharing experiences of mental health difficulties  can impact personal wellbeing by Lindstrom et al. (2021). To sign up to the research newsletter, visit the TRIUMPH website here.

Lot’s of fantastic interviews to share this week, and your author is taking notes (keep your eye out for future interview content coming from the #MentalHealthResearchMatters team). Watch the below interview with SMaRteN network lead Dr Nicola Byrom about all things to do with wellbeing in higher education, and listen to the argument for why we need a whole university approach to support student mental health.

SMaRteN also shares this this frank and insightful discussion between Aneeska Sohal and Durham PhD Student Michael Priestley who is a network member and chair of their ECR discussion group. They discuss the importance of culture change around how we value and talk about assessments in education, issues around self-worth and examinations and the importance of co-production. Listen below:

Further recorded webinars are brought to you by eNurture. Network lead Professor Gordon Harold has recently appeared in two webinars, both available on the eNurture homepage. For anyone who has seen the Netflix documentary Three Identical Strangers (if you haven’t then I can wholeheartedly recommend it) Professor Harold’s talk entitled Unpacking Nature from Nurture: Understanding how Family Processes Affect Child and Adolescent Mental Health might be of particular interest – check it out below:

And in what is tantamount to receiving tennis coaching from Roger Federer, or Bill Gates offering some computer programming advice, eNurture have produced a new written resource – Insights From Our Experts – sharing advice from the eNurture Leadership Team and Advisory Board on supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing during the transition back to school after lockdown. Questions such as What can parents and carers do to help ease their children’s transition back into busy school life? and How can I help my young child with separation anxiety now that they are back in school? are tackled and some fantastic advice given. Read all 5 blog posts here.

Even under ‘normal’ circumstances, children returning to school often feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation. But returning to school in the context of the pandemic is likely to come with increased levels of anxiety and stress for many children

Professor Susan McVie, eNurture

And as #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek draws to a close, Closing the Gap are back again with a very timely nature based episode of their Research Sofa, this time discussing blue spaces – think rivers, oceans, lakes etc – and what they can do for people with severe mental ill health:

Get Involved

Inspired to throw your hat in the ring? Well, you’ve come to the right place…opportunities abound from across the networks.

I am thrilled to bring you news of a new Emerging Minds Investigator paid internship! This is a fantastic opportunity to work within an amazing team filled with amazing people, within the growing TOPIC group (The Oxford Psychological Interventions in Childhood and adolescence) at a world class university. For more details, and to find out how to apply, click here. The deadline for applicants is 9am on the 21st of May so be quick!

Time is also ticking on Emerging Minds‘ final applications for their funding call focused on racism & children and young people’s mental health. At 9am on the 14th of June this funding call will close. All of the details can be found on their webpage here.

The MARCH network this month have sounded the klaxon and issued a number of fantastic call outs for recruitment. Firstly, as part of the COVID-19 Social Study, researchers are carrying out telephone or video call interviews to gain a detailed and nuanced understanding of the complex issues people have faced during the pandemic. Visit their website to learn more.

And if you are an arts professional who supports women affected by domestic abuse, then MARCH Researchers might like to speak with you about your views on the development of online support groups involving expressive arts the feasibility of running online art groups that support women who have experienced domestic abuse in the past. If you are interested in taking part in a focus group of this topic, please contact the study lead Dr Alison McKinlay for more information at

Emerging Minds are also currently looking for further participants on their long running COVID work – the Co-Ray project. They are running a short priority setting activity for young people aged between 11 and 16, and want to hear from young people about what kind of help and support they would like over the next few months. If you are a young person, or work with young people, the activity can be completed here.

Coming Up

To finish off this month’s update, we bring you a short news bulletin with some current on goings to look out for in the future:

  • Closing the Gap have been working with colleagues in PHE to discuss how the SCIMITAR intervention may be integrated into services as they work to implement the tobacco control elements of the long term plan. 
  • All 5 of eNurture’s originally funded projects have now completed. Keep an eye on their social media to make sure that you don’t miss news and outputs regarding those.
  • Closing the Gap held an initial meeting of their oral health group, which aims to create a consensus statement on what people with SMI should expect from oral health care.
  • Is there something creative which supports your own or other’s health and wellbeing? The MARCH network want to hear about it! In support of Creativity and Wellbeing Week (17th May – 23rd May), they are asking you to tweet your act of creativity to @NetworkMARCH using the hashtag #CreativityAndWellbeing. For me, it is probably noodling (poorly) on the guitar – but I won’t force a video of that upon you just now. We want to entice people to visit #MentalHealthResearchMatters not drive them away.

And that, as they say, is that. Once again, thank you for reading May’s edition of the Round-Up blog, bringing you latest news and developments from across the 8 different UKRI funded mental health research networks. It’s been a pleasure to be able to share all of this fantastic work.

To ensure you don’t miss anything, make sure to check the #MentalHealthResearchMatters website regularly, and follow all of the networks on twitter – this handy twitter list makes it easy.

Until next month!