Through our research we are finding new ways to prevent problems, and identify, treat and support people with mental illness. Working across disciplines and with both clinicians and those who live with mental health problems, our research addresses all age groups – from designing more effective interventions in childhood, to identifying and alleviating the causes of depression in older adults, and finding ways to build resilience in individuals and communities. Exploring mental ill-health in the workplace is also an area of strength at York.
EXAMPLES OF OUR RESEARCH
The University is involved in several research projects across the Yorkshire region which are having a significant impact on how mental illnesses are treated within the NHS.
TACKLING DEPRESSION IN OLDER PEOPLE
Professor Simon Gilbody, Director of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Group (MHARG) in the Department of Health Sciences, is leading the first large-scale UK study into the integrated primary care of older people with depression. A system of ‘collaborative care’ has been developed, including a case manager to provide information and support, liaise with primary care, support activity-focused interventions, and help individuals to identify ways to keep well in the future based on simple evidence supported psychological approaches. York researchers found that collaborative care reduced symptoms, prevented deterioration of depression and was good value for money.
CAN WE TREAT DEPRESSION BY COMPUTER?
There is increasing interest in the delivery of cognitive behavioural therapy via computers (cCBT) to increase access to treatment. Existing research has generally been conducted by researchers who also developed the programmes, which is potentially problematic.
Professor Simon Gilbody and colleagues at the York Trials Unit (YTU) have conducted the largest ever rigorous studies in this area, studying the clinical and cost effectiveness of cCBT and the level of support which is needed to support it. They found that the cCBT as currently delivered in the NHS is unlikely to result in improved outcomes for people with depression, and that structured support over the phone results in increased use of cCBT and reduced levels of depression and anxiety. This will inform NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidance and future NHS practice.
MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING FOR NORTH YORKSHIRE POLICE
The University of York now partners with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust to develop and deliver a programme of mental health training for officers and staff at North Yorkshire Police. The purpose of the training is to increase awareness and identification of mental health vulnerabilities, improve the recording of incidents involving people with mental ill-health, enhance skills in communicating with people in mental distress, provide a clearer understanding of pathways into mental health services, and aid multi agency working.
As part of a package of work with North Yorkshire Police, researchers at the University of York reviewed the existing research literature and found no high-quality evidence evaluating mental health training relevant to the police context. The researchers in the York Trials Unit went on to run a randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of a bespoke mental health training package for frontline police officers.
A unique one-day training package was developed by collaborators in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work. It is aimed at improving officers’ understanding of, and ability to identify, people with mental health needs. It was launched in January and over 1,500 officers will have completed the training by the end of the year.