New £2 million UK data hub to support mental health research and innovation

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) have announced that a new £2 million hub – called DATAMIND – will provide expert data resources, services, tools and expertise to support mental health research and innovation.

Led by academics from Swansea University and King’s College London, the project aims to improve the use of big data for mental health research, with the ultimate goal of utilising the research to improve people’s lives and prevent mental ill-health.

DATAMIND will operate across the four nations of the UK, bringing together expertise from the NHS, universities, charities, research institutes and industry.  

The hub’s focus on real-world data is a response to the concern that, according to HDR UK, people living with a mental illness may be ‘less likely to take part in’ or to ‘remain in usual types of research studies’, meaning that some mental health research and knowledge may not be based on the people who are worst affected.

The DATAMIND Hub will maximise the value of mental health data by safely and securely collating data from ‘diverse sources’ – such as health records, schools and administrative data, charity data, research trials, genomics, longitudinal studies and cohort data – before making it discoverable through the UK Health Data Research Innovation Gateway.

Professor Ann John, Co-Director of DATAMIND, said: “We’re really excited about DATAMIND. By working together with the public, patients, researchers, industry and the NHS we will transform both our understanding of mental health and the lives of people experiencing mental health problems. We will create a hub where researchers and others can find and use mental health data to benefit patients and the public and improve care.”

By helping researchers to use the data to help address complex questions about mental health, and understanding how to improve outcomes at both a personalised and population level, the hub’s work will aim to improve diagnosis, treatment and psychological wellbeing. The project will also incorporate and involve the insight of the public, patients and people with lived experience of mental health problems.

Funded by an investment from MRC, it joins a network of established Health Data Research Hubs, which have been supporting the research response in a number of areas, including COVID-19 infection rates, vaccine rollout, and the impact of COVID-19 on specific disease areas.