3 Ground Breaking Mental Health Research Projects
Mental Health research is vital
Without the on-going research into mental health and mental health problems, medical professionals would never be able to keep up with the demands and needs of mental health care. Research ensures that professionals can be best advised and that medicines can be produced that have a real impact on those who need them.
We often forget how vital research is in mental health, as often, mental health is seen as a problem that only affects individuals and not society on the whole. We know this sentiment is wrong and we also know that it is this thought process that has proven to be so damaging to individual sufferers of mental health problems in the past. Therefore, research is vital, and we should not ignore it.
MQ, a mental health research group have recently published an article that discusses numerous new ground-breaking research areas that are looking into different areas and different aspects of our lifestyles that could be contributing to mental health problems. These areas include; Inflammation, Hypermobility, and Arthritis.
By researching these areas, professionals are learning more about how extraneous conditions such as those mentioned above are contributing to mental health problems including depression, stress and anxiety. Before this research (as an example) one may never have associated inflammation with mental health problems, however, according to MQ, some associations do seem to exist.
Researchers have found a link between the development of heart disease and depression. By looking into this correlation further, the research now suggests that this could all be down to inflammation. Dr Golam Khandaker and Professor Peter Jones of the University of Cambridge are leading a team that is exploring this area. The research will look to see if inflammation in participants can lead to the development of heart disease and depression. Much of this will be based on complex statistical modelling, which will then go on to inform new diagnostic procedure should the team’s hypothesis be confirmed by their analyses. You can find out more about this project, here.
“If Golam and Peter can prove that inflammation is linked to the development of depression and heart disease together, this could help clinicians to screen people to see if they’re at risk of developing depression and heart disease. It could also help to open the way for new treatments. For example, inflammation can be reduced by regular physical exercise, which could decrease someone’s risk of developing depression and improve their physical health. Or, if people with depression have markers of inflammation in their blood, anti-inflammatory drugs could lead to vital new treatment options.”
Hypermobility is a common condition that is experienced by around a fifth of the UK population. Hypermobility occurs when a person’s joints move past their usual range of motion, this, in turn, can leave people more sensitive to specific changes and feeling within their body, which in turn can contribute to feelings of anxiety. There has been a known link between hypermobility and anxiety for quite some time now, however, according to MQ further research is now exploring this link to determine better treatments for those who suffer anxiety with symptoms of hypermobility. Led by Dr Jessica Eccles of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, this research aims to develop new anxiety treatments and therapies that are tailored specifically for people suffering from both conditions. You can find out more about this project for yourself, here.
“Hypermobility affects a staggering 20% of the population. Anxiety is generally very common but is really common among this group of people with hypermobility. This therapy offers the chance to create and test a new anxiety treatment. The study will help improve ways of relieving the debilitating symptoms of anxiety. In a particularly vulnerable group of people offer new insight into the processes that link anxiety to bodily feelings. “
Links are now being made between Arthritis and mental health problems. Arthritis is a very common condition in the UK and is a condition that causes sufferers severe pain in their joints, causing further issues such as stiffness and fatigue. It has been found at around 30% of all arthritis sufferers also suffer mental health problems that often go untreated, as arthritis treatments do not aim to help improve mental health.
New research is being carried out to determine if there is a link between arthritis and mental health conditions if a link is found then researchers will be able to tailor more suitable treatments that aim to both soothe the symptoms of arthritis, as well as aim to help improve the overall mental health of the patient.
Dr Sam Norton of Kings College London is leading a research team that is building a smartphone application designed to help healthcare professionals track the symptoms of arthritis sufferers in order to monitor their overall mental health too. You can see more for yourself, here.
The app is being designed to give patients the opportunity to shape their own treatments too, with their own mental health in mind. The implications of this are simple, Sam and the team aim to create a system that can help to contribute to more personalised treatment programmes for arthritis sufferers who in turn may be at risk of developing mental health problems as a result of their arthritis.
“Health organisations across the world recognise the need to incorporate mental health into treatment plans for physical health problems, but too often this doesn’t happen. The digital tool created by Sam can help to make mental health an important priority within arthritis care. This integration has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people who live with arthritis and other long-term conditions.”
Please check out the MQ article for more information on further research projects that are being explored by various mental health research professionals across the country.
Each of these projects is exploring abstract links between other conditions and mental health. It is time that we see more of this research come to the fore as often, the mental effects of various other health issues are forgotten about, leaving patients and sufferers to deal with not only a physical ailment but often, crippling mental health issues such as stress, anxiety or depression. If links can be found, treatments can be developed, giving patients the opportunity to truly understand themselves and their conditions and of course, giving them the absolute best chance of a speedy and successful recovery.