Mental Health

The NIHR BioResource for Mental Health is led by the NIHR BioResource Centre Maudsley based at King’s College London (KCL). The NIHR BioResource for Mental Health is particularly focused on recruiting participants with mental health disorders for understanding the biology of mental illness and improving treatments. To date, the BioResource for Mental Health has collaborated with almost 200 researchers to consent almost 25,000 participants diagnosed with disorders ranging from psychosis, depression, dementia, autism, ADHD, eating disorders, to sleep disorders as well as population samples. Our aim is to transform mental health and to achieve this, we are collaborating with innovative projects which will use online consent and questionnaires to create an extensive resource of biological and phenotypic data which will form part of the NIHR BioResource for Mental Health. It is led by Dr Gerome Breen, an internationally leading mental health geneticist with extensive experience of collaborative research with national and international research teams, who has published widely in high-impact scientific journals. 

The first major online recruitment projects is the “Talking Therapies Research Resource” (TTRR) which is currently recruiting participants within the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust but will extend to other Trusts in England. Led by the leading researcher into the genetics of psychological therapy genetics, Prof Thalia Eley, TTRR will recruit patients specifically enrolled in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services within NHS clinics and medical centres. The aim of TTRR is to enhance our understanding of anxiety and depression and to learn why current treatments work for some but not others. There is a lot of interest in this project and already we have two Practice Research Networks, seven Clinical Research Networks and ten NHS Trusts in England wanting to support the project.

We are also setting up one of the largest projects exploring the genetics of depression and anxiety and will be calling for people in England to enrol online for the ‘Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression’ GLAD study to support future research into both conditions. This will be through an online recruitment site aiming to support studies exploring the role of genes and environmental factors in the development of depression and anxiety disorders in England. These conditions have a significant impact on quality of life and can be chronic and disabling. Increased knowledge about the full spectrum of genes linked to depression and anxiety disorders and how genes and environment interact, will not only help to improve diagnosis but also the ability to offer better/most suitable treatment options. Importantly, the extensive phenotypic information will make this resource very useful for other researchers. Once this study is live, we will put a link in to direct interested parties to read further.

Planned future studies will include the launch in Jan 2019 of another online recruitment platform, which will focus on Eating Disorders (EDs), the “Eating Disorders Research Resource” (EDRR). Eating Disorders including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are common, affecting ~10% of the population with a substantial burden on healthcare and with considerable unmet medical needs. EDs have the highest mortality rates of all psychiatric disorders and only about half of the sufferers achieve remission with current available treatments, highlighting the need for greater understanding of causes and approaches to treatment. This resource will be of tremendous value to research, nationally and internationally.