New £7.8m PhD programme in mental health research will open to health professionals

King’s College London (KCL) has launched a new PhD programme in mental health research, which is aimed at health professionals and will support applications from under-represented groups.

The £7.8 million scheme is funded by the Wellcome Trust, as well as other partners, and hopes to ‘deliver a new generation of health professional scientists to lead mental health research in the future’.

An eight-year programme, the KCL initiative will offer 25 fellowships to doctors, nurses, psychologists and allied health professionals, with King’s acknowledging ‘the need to expand the research workforce’ and noting that few PhD programmes in the area of mental health are accessible to clinical staff.

King’s hopes that its new offering will ‘encourage clinicians both from within and outside disciplines traditionally involved in mental health to apply’, and wants to make research more inclusive.

During development of the course it focused on three underrepresented groups in research and academia: health professionals with their own experiences of ‘mental disorders’; people from ‘diverse racial and ethnic groups’; and nurses.

King’s will support these groups through a ‘range of outreach/recruitment strategies, partnerships and mentoring options’, and by seeking out, encouraging and supporting applications.

Furthermore, preparatory fellowships will be provided to allow flexible research experience alongside clinical duties.

The three programmes of research that the PhD scheme is built around, include: translational neuroscience; digital technologies; society, policy and mental health.

Dr Jacqui Dyer, MBE, Mental Health Equalities advisor for NHS England, said: “I am delighted to support this fellowship, which provides a route into research training for diverse communities.

“As the mental health equalities advisor for NHSEI and HEE I really welcome how this workforce approach contributes to the widening of access through a range of entry routes and diversifying training pipelines.”

To find out more about the programme, and how to apply, visit the dedicated website.