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NCMH National Centre

Mental Health

Annual Newsletter 2013

Researching a better future

for people affected by mental illness Welcome to our first centre newsletter Traditionally it’s been difficult for people to come forward to discuss their mental health problems to help others we want to help change that. Mental health problems can affect anyone, and our research aims to help improve treatments in the future and use patients’ Prof Nick Craddock experiences to ensure NCMH Director that services meet their needs.

The National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH) was set up in 2011 and aims to: n support and undertake high quality mental health research in Wales. n help improve understanding of mental health and illness in Wales, by communicating and engaging with patients, carers, health professionals and the public. The Centre is Wales’ first biomedical research centre. A biomedical research centre conducts research into complex medical conditions by using a range of different scientific methods. The Centre is funded by the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR), and hosted by Cardiff University and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

In the future high quality research of the type being conducted by the NCMH will lead to improvements in the everyday lives of people with mental health problems, and in the lives of their children.

At the NCMH we use various methods to study mental health conditions. This includes biological research (looking at the body’s cells and genes), psychological research (looking at how people feel, think and behave) and brain imaging research (using technology to look at the structure and function of the brain).

This will happen through identifying factors that may exacerbate these conditions, and developing new treatments and lifestyle strategies to manage these conditions.

By understanding more about these conditions, we hope to improve diagnosis, treatment and support for people in the future. Read on to find out more about the NCMH, our research and how you can be involved.

029 2074 4392

Wales Mental Health Network: Celebrating 1100 Volunteers NCMH is looking for people to join the Wales Mental Health Network (WMHN). We’re inviting people of any age from across Wales, with a diagnosed mental health condition, to join the network and help improve the lives of people with mental health disorders through research. This includes conditions such as: n n n n n

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) autism spectrum disorder mood and psychotic disorders (e.g. Bipolar Disorder and schizophrenia) post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) dementia (e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease).

The WMHN started in January 2012 and over the next two years we aim to recruit 6000 volunteers to participate in research. Volunteers take part in a short and informal 20-30 minute meeting with one of our researchers, often in their own home or at a local health clinic. All information provided is held in the strictest confidence. We’re working with NHS Health Boards and mental health services in Wales to give as many people as possible the opportunity to help with our research.

So far 1100 have joined the WMHN

Thank you! We would like to say an enormous Thank You to everyone who has helped with our research.

“Having had 1000 people around Wales who have participated in the Network is fantastic. We are incredibly grateful to all who have taken part. Together we can really make a difference.” says Ian Jones, a senior researcher with the WMHN .

We are particularly grateful to those who have kindly given their time and effort to participate in the WMHN.

If you live in Wales and are interested in joining the WMHN, or would like further information, please telephone us on 029 2074 4392, email or visit

Your support is invaluable. It will enable us to conduct mental health research which will help improve the future for people suffering with these conditions.

The WMHN is open to people who have taken part in other research studies at Cardiff University, providing you live in Wales. If you are a health professional and would like to support the WMHN, or would like information about how to refer patients/clients to the network, please contact us using the details given above.


Wales Mental Health Network: Volunteers’ Voices

Here are just some examples of feedback from our WMHN volunteers.

I feel the research may possibly help other sufferers in future as I feel my life would have been quite different (better) with earlier help. I was a little anxious about taking part in the study, but needn’t have worried at all as the questionnaire was structured, but informal and relaxed.

I found the process easy, quite relaxing and pleasant and I would encourage others to take part in order to make the general public aware that there is a problem and mental ill health should not be a taboo subject.

“ “

I found it helpful to myself to talk about my mental health. Great, it was easy - the researcher was very nice and easy to talk to. It was very relaxed.

What it’s like to take part:

I want to do more for young people and make sure they have a better chance than I did.

There is not enough research done, it’s about time people tried to find out if it is biological (genetic) to stop people feeling guilty. It was great to discuss everything with someone. I would definitely encourage others to take part so that people in the future may not have to go through what I’ve been through.

I took part in the research as a lot of my family suffer with mental health [problems] so I would like to help to change the taboo.

I think it is important, mental health problems have wrecked my life and I don’t want it to do that to others. I don’t want people in the future to go through what I’ve gone through.

I volunteered to take part as I have bipolar disorder and I want to see if they can find a reason why people have mental health problems. Also, my son has autism and I would like to know if there is a link. We need to find answers. We need to have the same attitude towards mental health research as they do towards cancer research.

Why people took part:

Tell Your Story We are inviting WMHN volunteers to tell us about their experiences of having a mental health condition and taking part in our research. Story telling is a powerful way of supporting others and helping to ensure health services are centred on the needs of the patient. If you are a WMHN volunteer and interested in telling your story, please telephone us on 029 2074 4392 or email


Wales Mental Health Network: A Resource for Researchers The Wales Mental Health Network (WMHN), which has been set up by the NCMH, is an all-Wales network of people with a diagnosed mental health condition, who have volunteered to take part in mental health research. This is an exciting new resource for researchers. It may be used by research groups to help better understand the biological and psychological mechanisms involved in mental health conditions, with the aim of improving care and treatment for people affected by these conditions in the future. There are two main ways the WMHN can facilitate mental health research: WMHN participants, where they have provided appropriate consent, may be invited to take part in additional, ethically approved, mental health research projects


n The WMHN, following the appropriate procedures, can also provide anonymised data or samples to researchers for mental health research. All data and samples are assigned with a unique WMHN number, so that individuals can not be identified, i.e. names, postcodes, or other identifying information is removed.

If you are part of a research group, and would like further information about the use of the resource, please contact the NCMH Manager by telephoning 029 2074 4392 or emailing Participant identity is strictly confidential. Only anonymous data and samples will be provided.

Educating Tomorrow’s Doctors

Dr Ben Duffin-Jones


Dr Ben Duffin-Jones, a psychiatrist, took up the post of NCMH Clinical Research Fellow in August 2012.

However, a recent report examining doctors’ attitudes and experience revealed that around half those questioned did not understand why someone would self-harm, and 80% felt they had not received sufficient training about the condition.

As part of his role he has been working with junior doctors to improve their understanding of self-harm and how to support people.

Ben ran a learning session for junior doctors in Llanelli, in which he challenged myths associated with self-harm, and explored approaches for interacting with patients in distress.

Self-harm has been increasing in the UK for a number of years, particularly amongst young people, which has led to an increase in hospital admissions.

The doctors also learnt about doing validated risk assessments and how to improve the quality of service delivered to the patient. The session was well received and attendees felt it would help improve the way they approached the management of self-harm in the future.

Brain Imaging at the National Centre for Mental Health The ‘100 Brains’ and ‘1000 Brains’ projects address the first step on this path, by examining how risk genes affect brain function in individuals who are currently unaffected by mental illness. So far, more than 50 people have taken part in these studies which involve visits to Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) for brain scans and behavioural tests.

Neuroimaging methods provide a snap-shot of the brain’s structure and/or function. They help us to bridge the gap in understanding how the symptoms experienced in mental illnesses are linked to genetic risk factors. This new knowledge may help us to better identify those at greatest risk and to develop treatments targeted at biological causes of mental illnesses.

We would love to hear from anybody potentially interested in taking part in a brain imaging research study. You need to be aged between 18 and 65 years and NOT currently suffering from any mental illness. To find out more, please get in touch with the neuroimaging team: contact Lisa Brindley or Neil Fowler on 029 2087 6506, or email or There are also opportunities for people with mental health problems to participate in imaging studies. For more information email

100 years of the Medical Research Council (MRC) In 2013 the MRC will be celebrating its centenary year. Here in Cardiff the MRC centre for Neuropsychatric Genetics and Genomics was funded in 2009, and the NCMH is proud to join the MRC centre in celebrating the centenary. In particular members of the NCMH and the WMHN may be interested in joining us for the following events:

Thursday 20th June 2013 Join us for an evening of public talks from PhD students, junior and senior staff, share some nibbles, browse stalls and posters celebrating the various activities of the MRC centre (and meet the NCMH team too).

Monday 1st July – Saturday 6th July 2013 How the light gets in is an arts exhibition taking place at BayArt gallery, Cardiff as part of the MRC centenary celebrations. A group exhibition of artists including Julia Thomas (Artist-in-Residence), Rhys Bevan Jones, Joan Malloy, Sara Annywl, and Jan Williams will exhibit their work exploring themes such as Genetics and Psychiatry, and psychiatric classifications and will be accompanied by a programme of public talks and events throughout the week. For information about the other centenary events please email



Resources NCMH Website The NCMH website is online at Here you will find a whole range of useful information. This includes: n Important news relating to mental health n Different mental health conditions, types of treatments available, links to useful websites and further reading, and information about our research in each of these areas n NCMH information sheets providing information about different mental health conditions

Beating Bipolar

n Education and training opportunities.

Beating Bipolar is the first web-based education treatment for bipolar disorder, covering areas such as diagnosis, treatment, relapse prevention and advice for family and carers.

Mental Health and Medication Wales Website Medication is one form of treatment that can help to relieve some of the symptoms of mental illness. To support people in Wales to make informed choices about mental health medications, NCMH and Bipolar Education Programme Cymru launched a new website in 2012 called Mental Health and Medication Wales. It can be accessed from The website provides useful and easy to understand information about mental health conditions and the different medications used to help treat these conditions. It gives answers to commonly asked questions about conditions and medications, and access to Printable Patient Information Leaflets. The independent and quality assured content is written by specialist mental health pharmacists and based on best available evidence.


Free access is offered to anyone with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and mental health professionals in the UK. To request to be registered email bepc@cardiff. If you have bipolar disorder, the Bipol-App is a useful way to monitor your symptoms and triggers using your smart-phone. It enables you to keep track of changes in your mood, energy, sleep and anxiety. Visit

Maternal Mental Health: a learning programme for midwives This on-line e-learning programme helps midwives to identify and treat new mothers who at risk of developing serious mental illness. Visit


Out and About

NCMH has been out and about talking to patients, carers, health professionals and the public about our research and how they can be involved. We attended various meetings and events in Wales, including: n Annual Be Well for Life Minority Ethnic Communities Health Fair 2013 n Public Health Wales Conference, Cardiff n Hafal Conference, Mid Wales n National Eisteddfod, Vale of Glamorgan n Drop-in session, run by Bipolar UK in Newport n Information Resource Day, run by the Patients Council, Swansea Network of Users Group n Mental Health Researh Network Cymru (MHRNC) conference, Wrexham n North Wales Mental Health and Learning Disability Research Conference, Bangor University

If you know of a suitable meeting or event which the NCMH could attend, contact us on 029 2074 4392 or email

Also in the News Mental Health Research Network Cymru (MHRNC) held their annual conference in Wrexham on 7th March 2013. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Mental Health and Well-Being in Times of Trouble’. NCMH PI Dr Ian Jones gave a update on the activities of the NCMH and PhD student Sarah Knott from the NCMH won first prize for her entry in the new research ideas category of the poster competition for her entry ‘Investigating genetic susceptibility to bipolar disorder, migraine and epilepsy’. This year as part of the conference MHRNC invited submissions of artwork on the theme of ‘Hope’. The top 12 pieces were be displayed at the conference, and the top three received prizes.


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029 2074 4392

NCMH is part of the research infrastructure for Wales funded by NISCHR, Welsh Government WMHN is a patient group which is part of the NCMH, the NISCHR-funded Biomedical Research Centre. The NCMH is committed to working together with other mental health research groups, including Mental Health Research Network - Cymru, one of the NISCHR-funded Registered Research Groups.

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NCMH Newsletter 2013  

Newsletter from the National Centre for Mental Health

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