An innovative partnership between the NHS, the University of Strathclyde and New York University (NYU) is set to strengthen international collaboration and mental health research.
As part of the relationship, the organisations have created the Mental Health Futures Collaborative (MHFC) in order to bolster the evidence base for the prevention of mental health challenges as well as to campaign policymakers to address the wider factors influencing the issue.
The collaborative also looks to encourage the development of digital solutions in mental health, in addition to a wider focus on health inequalities.
Professor Victoria Stanhope, associate dean for faculty affairs at NYU Silver School of Social Work, said: “We are delighted to be working with colleagues within Strathclyde to help us strengthen our collaborative research focused on mental health and vulnerable populations.”
A core component of the partnership is sharing best practice and exploring the similarities between the urban landscapes of Glasgow and New York. This was done recently at a symposium held in the US, marking the 10-year anniversary of the universities’ strategic collaboration.
“You need to meet the people who run the programmes and the populations they serve,” said Peter Byrne, an honorary professor in the University of Strathclyde’s department of psychological sciences and health.
“Through this group, I have seen fantastic public mental health work in the poorest parts of NYC and climbed up the steep learning curve for what works with limited budgets. If the UK wants to reduce rising inequalities and worsening mental health, we need to discover and trial solutions from the US too.”
During the meeting, for example, the University of Strathclyde’s Dr Linda Irvine Fitzpatrick visited a café which runs a programme that enables students from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds to learn employability skills.
Several of its alumni have gone on to continue their careers in catering, including some at leading restaurants – investigating the mental health benefits of initiatives like this is one the key aims behind MHFC.
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