Sussex psychologist awarded prestigious role in new national mental health network

Professor Gordon Harold

A University of Sussex psychologist, Professor Gordon Harold, will lead one of eight new Mental Health Networks, announced by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) today (Thursday 6 September 2018).

The Networks will bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address vital mental health research questions.

Professor Harold’s e-Nurture Network will focus on researching and promoting the mental health of children and young people in the context of a digital world, with a focus on supporting positive family and school life. The researchers will look at how the digital environment has the potential to both positively and negatively influence children’s well-being, mental health and development. The multi-disciplinary Network will examine how we equip parents, teachers, practitioners, policy makers and youth themselves with information, support and resources that promote positive mental health in a contemporary (and future) digital age.

Professor Harold, Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex, comments: "This award places Sussex in the area of child-adolescent mental health among the leading centres of research, practice and policy excellence in the UK and internationally.

"The e-Nurture Network will advance understanding of how we work with and help children, parents, families and the professional agencies that aim to improve mental health outcomes for children and young people in a digital world.

“Together with our e-Nurture Network partners, we have an opportunity to sustainably improve rates of poor mental health experienced by young people in the UK, improving outcomes not just for today's generation of children, but for the next generation of children, parents and families.”

The e-Nuture Network will focus on the following strands of activity:

  1. Explore how the digital environment has changed the ways in which children experience and interact with family, school and peer-based influences and what these changes mean for children’s mental health.

  2. Identify how we can recognise and disentangle digital risks from opportunities when working with families, schools and professional agencies in developing intervention programmes to improve mental health outcomes for children and young people.

  3. Identify how to effectively incorporate and disseminate this new knowledge to engage present and future mental health practice models and the design and development of digital platforms and interventions aimed at promoting mental health and reducing negative mental health trajectories for young people.

Professor Michael Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research adds: "This UKRI cross-disciplinary Mental Health Network award confirms Professor Gordon Harold and his team at Sussex among the nation’s leaders in examining family, school and wider community influences on children's mental health.

“By examining the questions that the e-Nurture Network has been established to address, a new generation of interventions aimed at improving mental health outcomes for children and young people in the UK will be inspired and developed.

“This is a major achievement for the University and I wish Professor Harold and his network partners every success in moving this innovative initiative forward."

The eight new Networks will embrace a collaborative ethos, bringing together researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including health, medicine, biology, social sciences, humanities and environmental sciences. Many of the Networks will also include insight from charity workers, health practitioners and people with lived experience of mental health issues.

The Networks, which are supported with £8 million of funding and will mostly be funded for four years, will progress mental health research into themes such as the profound health inequalities for people with severe mental ill health, social isolation, youth and student mental health, domestic and sexual violence, and the value of community assets.

The full eight Networks are:

  • Social, Cultural and Community Assets for Mental Health, led by Dr Daisy Fancourt, UCL
  • Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health, led by Professor Sonia Johnson, UCL
  • Violence, Abuse and Mental Health: Opportunities for Change, led by Professor Louise Howard and Dr Sian Oram, King’s College London
  • Transdisciplinary Research for the Improvement of Youth Mental Public Health (TRIUMPH), led by Professor Lisa McDaid, University of Glasgow
  • SMARtEN: Student Mental Health Research, led by Dr Nicola Byrom, King’s College London
  • The Nurture Network: Promoting Young People's Mental Health in a Digital World, led by Professor Gordon Harold, University of Sussex
  • Emerging Minds: Action for Child Mental Health, led by Professor Cathy Creswell, University of Reading
  • Improving health and reducing health inequalities for people with severe mental illness: the 'Closing the Gap' Network, led by Professor Simon Gilbody, University of York

By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Thursday, 6 September 2018