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Two young women talking

Mental health

Mental health research at Manchester brings together psychiatrists, psychologists, epidemiologists, nurses, biostatistician, health economists and academic researchers.

We have strengths across a range of psychological and psychiatric areas, including severe mental health problems such as psychosis, anxiety, substance misuse and suicidality.

We have made a real difference to changing the face of mental health treatment in the UK and internationally. We develop novel interventions for treating mental health problems, including new biological and psychological treatments, and work to make sure these are implemented into services for people with mental health problems and their carers.

We have a large number of international collaborations and are translating much of our work into services in less developed areas in the world.

Many of our staff work closely with NHS services, charities and public health bodies as well as industry, so the work we do has a big impact on the community.

Areas of research activity

  • Self-harm and suicide
  • Early intervention in psychosis
  • Clinical trials in mental health populations
  • Neurobiology of mental health problems
  • Emerging serious mental illness
  • Autism spectrum disorders (see Autism@Manchester)
  • Mental health in prisoners
  • Mobile health technology
  • Parenting interventions
  • Culturally-sensitive psychosocial interventions
  • Women’s mental health
  • Substance misuse
  • Mental health in chronic physical illness
  • Medically unexplained symptoms
  • Psychological interventions for physical health
  • Global mental health
Group of adults

Major projects

Children and adolescents with parental mental illness (CAPRI)

Led by Professor Kathryn Abel, this European Research Council funded project brings together epidemiology and neuroscience with the aim of identifying high-risk children living with parental mental illness and what type of targeted intervention they need. Working with collaborators in Sweden and Australia to explore diverse population datasets, the team will also use powerful neuroimaging to discover which at-risk infants show abnormal cognitive development.

National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH)

As the UK’s leading research programme into suicide prevention in clinical services, NCISH has the overall aim of improving safety for all mental health patients. Our core database is a national consecutive case series that examines the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the deaths by suicide of people under the recent care of, or recently discharged from specialist mental health services. Led by Professor Louis Appleby, we publish regular reports which recommend measures to reduce the number of suicides by people receiving specialist mental health care. Mental health care providers that have adopted our recommendations have subsequently experienced lower patient suicide rates.

Engager 2: Developing and evaluating a collaborative care intervention for prisoners

Professor Jenny Shaw has been awarded NIHR funding to develop an intervention for prisoners with common mental health problems who are coming to the end of their sentence. Addressing offenders’ mental health could lead to improved health and wellbeing, as well as wider economic and social benefits due to reduction in reoffending.

Pre-school Autism Communication Trial (PACT) 7-11 study

Led by Professor Jonathan Green and funded by the Medical Research Council, the PACT 7-11 study was a follow-up of families who were involved in our original trial of a parent-mediated communication intervention for young children with autism. The study’s findings were published in The Lancet.

Young girl laughing

Case studies

Changing policy for early psychosis treatment

Our researchers have made a major impact in the area of detection and management of people with early psychosis.

Studies led by Professor Alison Yung demonstrated the possibility of identifying people at high and imminent risk of developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.

Research led by Professor Anthony Morrison includes the world's first clinical trial using only cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in the 'at risk mental state' (ARMS) group and the use of CBT in first episode psychosis.

Professor Shon Lewis and Dr Richard Drake established a significant association between delay in treatment of the first episode of psychosis and outcomes, which demonstrated that these could be improved considerably if lengthy delays were reduced.

This research has influenced policy and practice in the UK and abroad, including the establishment of early psychosis teams dedicated to early detection and treatment (50 in England alone).

Our findings have also influenced the development of NICE Guidelines and the NHS England Early Intervention Standard, in which detection and management of the ARMS group is mandatory, clinicians are required to respond urgently to a first episode of psychosis, and use of CBT in both ARMS and first episode psychosis are recommendations.

Helping parents through conflict and displacement

More than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by armed conflict. The experiences of war and displacement significantly affect families, leaving children at high risk for the development of psychological and behavioural problems.

Our research tested the innovative possibility of distributing information within the bread packets handed out to families in humanitarian settings and conflict zones. This resulted in the rapid dissemination of information about parenting and child trauma in Syria.

Related work investigated methods for maximising the population reach of parenting interventions, including a trial of a parenting programme delivered in low resource settings in Panama. This came to the attention of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and we have been working with them on the content and design of resources to improve family skills and parenting internationally.

Young refugee child with his mother


Professor Alison Yung
Tel: +44 (0)161 306 7933