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£3M boost for Wales’ mental health

12 July 2011

Wales’ first centre designed to bring front-line mental health workers and Cardiff University’s world-leading researchers together to develop new ways of treating Welsh patients, has been announced.

The National Centre for Mental Health is Wales’ first Biomedical Research Centre designed to bring the talents of Cardiff's leading experts together with mental health professionals to increase knowledge and improve patient care.

Funded by the Welsh Government’s National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR), the Centre will work closely with professionals in Health Boards in all parts of Wales.

Professor Nick Craddock from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and a leading expert on Bipolar Disorder, will head-up the national centre. He said: "People with mental health problems need help and support to enable them to cope with their illness.

"Mental health problems can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender or social background. That is why it’s crucial that we have a national centre that brings together front-line professionals in all parts of Wales with academics to help develop the best possible treatments for Welsh patients."

A key element of the National Centre’s work will be to improve life for patients – allowing patients to be involved in key areas of research, with their support, information and biological samples being used to help understanding of what causes and triggers mental illness.

Professor Jonathan Bisson, Director of Research and Development at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: "The creation of The National Centre for Mental Health is fantastic news for Cardiff and Vale UHB.

"This will further strengthen our partnership with Cardiff University and lead to real benefits for the patients we treat."

The National Centre will focus across the lifespan of mental illness: from childhood to old age including neuro-developmental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism to the major adult psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The bid was led by Professor Mike Owen who directs Cardiff University’s MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics & Genomics and Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute.

Professor Owen said: "The potential in this area is immense with recent advances in genetics and neurosciences. What we need to do now is to involve more patients from across Wales and challenge the commonly held view that these disorders are not amenable to medical research.

"We also need to train and involve more psychiatrists and other healthcare workers in research and encourage more investment in this area which is grossly underfunded given the morbidity that mental illness causes."

Professor Craddock added: "The creation of Wales’ first National Centre for Mental Health is an exciting development. More importantly it gives Wales’ leading academics the first coordinated opportunity to work directly with patients, not only to help them improve their mental health but also to improve the benefit of our research."



Further information or media interview, please contact:

Professor Nick Craddock
School of Medicine
Cardiff University
Telephone: 029 20 687067
Mobile: 07938 625254

Professor Mike Owen
School of Medicine
Cardiff University
Telephone: 02920687065

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.