Institute for Mental Health

Institute for Mental Health logo

The Institute for Mental Health (IMH) has been established to maximise the collaborative efforts of academics at the University of Birmingham, and builds on the strong existing partnerships with practice in the NHS; established through Birmingham Health Partners, Forward Thinking Birmingham, and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Through interdisciplinary research the IMH works to improve the outcomes and care for young people with mental health problems. We will do this by working together to understand the causes of poor mental health, prevent mental health problems from developing, and respond to established illness by developing new treatments and services.

No other health condition matches mental illness in the combined extent of prevalence, persistence and breadth of impact.

Increasing evidence shows that current approaches to preventing or responding to mental health difficulties could be more effective. We need better interventions to improve outcomes for those struggling with their mental health, however it is also vital to develop the structure and design of mental health services in order to deliver effective support for both young people and adults. To do this we need to respond to the wider factors, such as living and working environments, which affect people’s lives and opportunities.

We’re bringing together experts from different disciplines, people with lived experience of distress, and care providers, to help inform our research. We aim to develop, promote and evaluate current innovations in policy, systems and services in order to reduce both the occurrence and the impact of mental health difficulties.

The goal of our research is to maximise people’s chances of regaining a satisfying and productive life following an adverse experience.

Watch: Professor Matthew Broome, Director of the Institute for Mental Health, talk youth mental health

“Most of my research has been in the onset of mental disorders, particularly the field of schizophrenia and psychosis, and around the formation of delusions. 

“These examples are part of a wider example in youth mental health. We know that approximately 75% of mental disorders begin before the age of 24, so having an understanding of how these disorders develop in young people and adults is crucial. 

“We know from research in psychosis to date, that intervening early can help with long-term outcomes, can be cost effective, and can also improve clinically important outcomes such as admission rates and employment. 

“The importance of intervening early is also linked with how to develop services. To help young people access services we need to develop mental health care that is flexible, non-stigmatising and inclusive. 

“I think the focus we’ve had over the last ten years or so, looking at the onset of disorders in youth mental health, has led to a change in how mental disorders are viewed by society. We now see them more inclusively, more optimistically and also aware that diagnoses remain in flux alongside people’s wider developmental and life event stages including things such as entering adulthood, leaving home, starting employment and perhaps starting university.”