What is M-RIC?
M-RIC stands for Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre. Our Liverpool centre will be the first of its kind to routinely involve NHS mental health service users with innovations in treatment they need and want. We will do this in partnership with health professionals, researchers, industry partners, and service users.
Which organisations are involved in M-RIC?
Working together in partnership, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Liverpool have been funded to establish the teams, digital infrastructure, and research facilities necessary to tackle historically under-researched mental health conditions.
The organisations have the clinical and research expertise as well as being members of wider specialist networks such as the NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre.
Why has M-RIC been created?
One in four adults experiences mental illness. The third commonest cause of disability is depression. It is estimated that the impact of mental ill health costs the UK economy £118 billion per year. In 2020/1, the estimated cost of poor mental health to UK employers was £56 billion.
Health inequalities are unfair and create avoidable differences in health across the population, and between different groups within society. The COVID pandemic and cost of living crisis have widened health inequalities and there has been a significant increase in referrals to mental health services.
Our aim is to both improve treatments and access to them. We will develop innovative medicines, digital therapies, and other novel treatments for a wide range of mental health conditions.
By building the evidence base for innovative treatments, we will not only serve Liverpool City Region residents but have impacts nationally and globally. The strong link between M-RIC’s research and NHS service delivery is a new model for UK mental health research and it will be tested as a potential blueprint for other areas.
How is M-RIC funded?
The centre has been funded through a £10.5 million share of £42.7 million national funding for the UK Mental Health Mission by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the Office for Life Sciences (OLS).
£10.5 million – funding for M-RIC research that will have a direct impact on NHS mental healthcare
What is M-RIC’s relationship with the national Mental Health Mission?
In 2021, the UK Government announced its intention to build upon the successes of the taskforce approach to tacking the COVID-19 pandemic with partnerships across health, science, and industry organisations. These were termed Healthcare Missions.
Four Healthcare Missions were created to fund research into cancer, obesity, mental health, and addiction, to save lives, transform patient care, and ensure that the people of the UK are the first to benefit from the breakthroughs made.
The Mental Health Mission was awarded £42.7 million shared across a network of world-class mental health clinical research facilities. The Mental Health Mission will be delivered via the NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration, which has received a share of the funding for UK-wide work focussed on conditions such as depression and early psychosis. Liverpool’s M-RIC, alongside Birmingham, will act as a demonstrator site of what can be achieved with a new approach to mental health research embedded in NHS Integrated Care Systems.
How does M-RIC support our commitment to tackling inequalities?
Liverpool has one of the UK’s highest levels of social and economic disadvantage and poor mental health. Mental health service users in Liverpool live on average 20 years less than the UK average. Despite this, there has been little mental health research in areas like Liverpool, which need it most.
Research funding itself unfortunately has an inequality of its own. Around one in four people will be affected by a mental illness at some point in their life, and even though UK institutions carry out cutting-edge mental health research, they receive only 5.5 percent of the UK health research budget.
The COVID-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis have further widened health inequalities and seen a stark rise in referrals to mental health services.
M-RIC is a response to these inequalities and seeks ‘parity of esteem’ between physical and mental healthcare research and innovation. Parity of esteem is the principle by which mental health must be given equal priority to physical health and it was enshrined in law by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
In recent years, partnerships in research and innovation delivered some of the world’s leading responses to COVID-19, for example in vaccination and mass rapid antigen testing. M-RIC wants to build on the momentum of these research and innovations partnerships to improve mental healthcare.
The creation of M-RIC for the people of Liverpool City Region is a once in a generation moment, upon which we will build – improving mental health treatments for generations to come and putting Liverpool front and centre as the place to come and advance mental health for all.
Involving NHS mental health service users with innovations in treatment they need and want