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Research for Social Care - Research specification for mental health in Northern England call

Contents

Summary

  • NIHR Research for Social Care (RfSC) is running an additional call focusing on important social care questions around mental health in Northern England.
  • This additional call is an important part of the Department of Health and Social Care's ongoing interest in strengthening mental health research in less well supported areas. 
  • The call is inviting proposals from eligible research teams to better understand and manage the social care consequences of mental health conditions. 
  • We are particularly interested in populations in Northern England where there is a  social care need and which has been historically underserved by research activity. Host organisations should be based in Northern England, however collaborators outside of the North are welcome to apply.
  • Standard RfSC criteria and decision making processes will apply
  • The call offers researchers considerable flexibility to focus on any subject area or topic providing that it falls within the Mental Health Call remit.
  • The call is for proposals up to £350,000 for a period of up to 36 months.
  • Applications are expected to have a strong involvement and collaboration with organisations that are responsible for delivering mental health treatment and/or support as well as related social care services e.g local authorities and third sector, where appropriate.
  • This call launches on 21 July 2021 

Call for research proposals addressing Mental Health problems in Northern England

The NIHR Research for Social Care (RfSC) call is running an additional call to invite proposals from eligible research teams to improve the evidence base around social care and mental health problems in Northern England

Research into providing appropriate social care support for people with mental health problems is a key priority. View the government framework for mental health research. The impact mental health problems can have on individuals and the wider societal and economic consequences is vast and complex and includes increased risk of co-morbid illnesses, social exclusion, socioeconomic disadvantage (e.g. low education, unemployment, poverty or deprivation), etc. 

An increase of mental health support needs creates  a burden on the resources of local authorities and on social care service sectors. Despite the high prevalence, many populations do not receive the social care support they need and there are significant inequalities to its access.

Mental health research is an ongoing priority for the Department of Health and Social Care and for the NIHR. However,  much of the current research expertise is concentrated in a small number of geographical locations and the NIHR has ambitions to increase the capacity and capability to conduct mental health research right across the country. This will help to both broaden the research base and also support the drive to see more research conducted in populations with the highest unmet social care need.

This call aims to study populations with an unmet social care need. there is a mismatch between regional research activities (measured by patient recruitment per 100,000 patients) in mental health and the prevalence of mental health conditions in England in the past 10 years (2010-19)

The challenge for all care organisations is to change the way that services work together and ensure that the right services are being commissioned for local needs.

Scope

RfSC are inviting proposals that address the following research goals: 

  1. Research to develop new and improved social care interventions and support for mental health problems.
  2. Research to improve understanding of how social care may support the links between physical and mental health, and eliminate the mortality gap. 
  3. Research to improve choice of, and access to, mental health care, treatment, and support in social care and community settings
  4. Research on those populations that cannot currently access adequate social care interventions and support in relation to mental health

We welcome proposals that in addition seek to address one or more of the following ambitions:

  • Increasing research capacity
  • Increasing research capability
  • Increasing the range of disciplines involved
  • Increasing the range of research settings
  • Increasing collaborations between regional and supra-regional partners
  • Increasing the number of research active social care practitioners 

The call specification draws on priorities identified by the Mental Health Research Goals 2020-2030. Each goal’s scope and example areas that the research may address are covered. 

Proposals should be within RfSC scope and the scope of the mental health call.

Research methods may involve primary research or evidence synthesis, including systematic reviews, modelling studies, or the analysis of existing data-sets.

Proposals have to clearly identify the research context of their proposal in terms of recent and currently funded UK and international research in the area and the potential impact of their proposed research for care users, carers and social care. 

Applications should be co-produced with service commissioners, providers, carers and service users wherever appropriate to better ensure findings are of immediate utility in policy and practice. Applicants may wish to consult the NIHR guidance on co-producing research.

Call details 

Eligibility

  • The call is open to researchers at all career stages and standard RfSC eligibility rules will apply, as set out in the RfSC call specification. Early career researchers* (ECRs) are encouraged to apply as lead applicants but it is not considered an eligibility requirement. 
  • The host institution is expected to be in the North of England (North East and North Cumbria, North West Coast, Greater Manchester, and Yorkshire and Humber). Research teams will typically be based from within the North but collaborators outside of the North are permitted.
  • Participant recruitment to the study must take place from the North of England region and this can be in conjunction with sites located in other regions, where the social care need is high. 
  • Special consideration should be given to the inclusion of socio-economic factors and other under-served communities that are more affected by mental health problems.

*For this highlight notice we consider any researcher who has not yet been the principal investigator for a substantial award (£100,000+) to be an early career researcher.

Funding

The call is for applications up to £350,000. Detailed information on eligible costs can be found in the RfSC finance guidance.

How to apply

Applicants must submit an online application via the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility (CCF) Research Management System (RMS).

Word version of the online form is available and can be used to assist research teams developing an application. Please note the Word form cannot be submitted as an application. Only applications submitted online via the CCF RMS will be accepted, however information can be copied from the Word template into the online application form. 

Evaluation process

RfSC has a two-stage commissioning process. Please see the RfSC call specification for further details. The criteria used by the assessing committee will reflect standard RfSC criteria as detailed in the specification.

Call timings

Step Date
Call launch 21 July 2021
Stage 1 call close 19 October 2021
Stage 1 committee meeting December 2021
Stage 2 launch 25 January 2022
Stage 2 close 8 March 2022
Stage 2 committee meeting May 2022
Funding outcomes July 2022
Project start window  1 September 2022 - 1 March 2023


Contact information

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the local RDS for the initial assessment and advice.

For general and scientific queries relating to the call, including queries relating to the administrative process of applying, please contact rfsc@nihr.ac.uk

Appendix 1:

Analysis of Regional Mental Health Burden and Research Activity

There is a mismatch between regional research activities (measured by patient recruitment per 100,000 patients) in mental health and the prevalence of mental health conditions in England in the past 10 years (2010-19). The recruitment per 100,000 prevalence map shows where the highest proportion of people with mental health conditions are being recruited to research studies (figure 1). 

The areas of highest prevalence per 1,000 map shows where mental health conditions are most prevalent, with the shade becoming paler as prevalence drops (figure 2). 

Where are the highest proportions of people with common mental health conditions being recruited into mental health studies?

Figure 1: Recruitment per 1,000 prevalence +

Local Clinical Research Network region

Recruitment

Prevalence

Recruitment per 100,000 prevalence

South London

22,101

387,025

57.1

Thames Valley and South Midlands

4,332

222,443

19.5

West Midlands

7,484

568,463

13.2

North West London

2,869

250,377

11.5

Kent, Surrey and Sussex

4,286

426,269

10.1

Yorkshire and Humber

6,145

630,356

9.7

North East and North Cumbria

3,427

383,540

8.9

East Midlands 

3,442

420,127

8.2

Eastern

3,108

418,186

7.4

West of England

1,888

256,886

7.1

North West Coast

2,929

521,317

5.6

Wessex

1,559

289,753

5.4

South West Peninsula

1,251

250,971

5.0

North Thames

2,803

648,839

4.3

Greater Manchester

1,133

430,692

2.6

England total

68,757

6,114,244

11.2


Where are common mental health conditions most prevalent?

Figure 2: Weighted prevalence (per 1,000) +

Local Clinical Research Network region

Prevalence

Adult population

Weighted prevalence (per 1,000)

Greater Manchester

430,692

2,146,470

200.7

North West Coast

521,317

2,707,490

192.5

North East and North Cumbria

383,540

2,296,045

167.0

North West London

250,377

1,505,994

166.3

South London

387,025

2,328,617

166.2

North Thames

648,839

3,952,295

164.2

West of England

265,886

1,644,509

161.7

Yorkshire and Humber

630,356

3,971,913

158.7

South West Peninsula

250,971

1,611,110

155.8

Eastern 

418,186

2,704,008

154.7

Wessex

289,753

2,065,847

140.3

West Midlands

568,463

4,088,391

139.0

Thames Valley and South Midlands

222,443

1,637,712

132.9

Kent, Surrey and Sussex

426,269

3,218,657

132.4

East Midlands

420,127

3,236,427

129.8

England total

6,114,244

39,151,485

156.2