The Centre for Performance Science will be part of a new Mental Health Network led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), focusing on loneliness and social isolation. Eight new Mental Health Networks were recently announced by UKRI to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address important mental health research questions.
The new Mental Health 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 loneliness and social isolation network is led by University College London in partnership with high-profile institutions including the Royal College of Music, University of Birmingham, London School of Economics, and Public Health England. It will address the gap in understanding of how some people with mental health problems come to be lonely. Reducing loneliness and social isolation may be a way to improve lives of people with mental health problems, or even of preventing these problems. The network will bring together experts and people with lived experience to research how to achieve this.
The Networks are supported with £8 million of funding for three to four years. As well as investigating social isolation, they will progress mental health research into themes such as the profound health inequalities for people with severe mental ill health, youth and student mental health, domestic and sexual violence, and the value of community assets.
Rosie Perkins, Research Fellow in Performance Science at the RCM, said: ‘The arts play an important role in fostering connections between people, so I’m delighted that the Royal College of Music will be a partner in this new network. The interdisciplinary collaboration is very exciting and supports our continuing work, in the Centre for Performance Science, on how and why the arts enhance mental health.’