Welcome to the Mental Elf. This website will help you find just what you need to keep up-to-date with all of the important and reliable mental health research and guidance.
Our team of mental health experts post blogs every week day with short and snappy summaries that highlight evidence-based publications relevant to mental health practice in the UK and further afield.
All of our blogs are free to read. This is important because our vision for this website is to facilitate a democratic conversation between patients, clinicians, researchers, carers, policy makers, health and social care professionals and others. It’s vital that this discussion takes place in a public space so we can learn from each other.
Our bloggers give their time for free and they are all really keen to contribute because they shared our ethos for clearly communicating evidence-based research to anyone who is interested. This website is very much a group effort.
We scour over 500 sources of evidence (journals, databases, websites) every week, to find key guidance, systematic reviews and other high quality research and reports that will help make your practice more evidence-based. The selection process has no input from any external bodies, publishers, sponsors or commercial organisations.
No bias, no misinformation, no spin, just what you need.
Who started the Mental Elf?
The blog was started by André Tomlin in May 2011. André’s an Information Scientist and has worked in mental health since the late nineties, formerly at the University of Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Mental Health and since 2002 as MD of Minervation Ltd an evidence-based healthcare consultancy based in Oxford.
After 2 very successful years of blogging as the Mental Elf, André decided to invite colleagues to join him as contributors to the site. It’s great to involve a wide range of people in this venture, to bring in a fresh perspective and their considerable knowledge and clinical experience.
How is the Mental Elf funded?
The National Elf Service website, which contains the Mental Elf and a number of other elves covering topics from dentistry to social care, was set up by Minervation Ltd. The Founders of Minervation (André Tomlin and Douglas Badenoch) are also Founders and Directors of the National Elf Service. The website is self-funded and receives no money from the pharmaceutical industry or other commercial organisations. We feel that it is important we remain independent from any commercial organisations who work in mental health.
In 2012, we received a small research and development grant from the UK Government to carry out the market research to get our website fully tested and launched.
Does the Mental Elf make money?
All of the National Elf Service blogs (including the Mental Elf) are free. That will always remain so. Contributors are not paid for their blogs, and we only work with people who have no conflict of interest.
However, it costs money to run the website. We generate revenue from Membership. Our members enjoy the added benefits of a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) system within the National Elf Service website. This is aimed at students and professionals who need to keep up to date with the latest research in a way that can be linked to their CPD. The CPD system has been built with significant investment from Minervation and is run as a business. We sell individual and institutional subscriptions to this website and our clients include universities, charities, the NHS and local authorities. An institutional subscription includes bulk access to our CPD membership area as well as consultancy support from our team. Find out more by reading our publicity leaflet.
Our plan is to build this business so we can grow the website and include other health topics in our list of elves.
Is the National Elf Service ever paid for content?
No. We do not accept commissioned articles, and we do not work with authors who have a conflict of interest with the paper in question.
Who writes for the Mental Elf?
We have an ever-expanding team of people who contribute to the site. The group includes senior clinicians and researchers, health and social care professionals, academics, service users, students, information scientists and carers.
We’re adding to our network of writers all the time, so find out more if you’re interested in getting involved yourself.
- Clive Adams, Chair of Mental Health Services Research and Co-ordinating Editor of the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group at the University of Nottingham
- Sally Adams, Lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Bath
- Lia Ali, Consultant Psychiatrist for Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
- Eva Alisic, Psychologist and Research Fellow at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia
- Ahmed Al-Shihabi, Medicine Student at University College London
- Rachel Allan, Practice Leader for The Royal Mencap Society
- Rob Allison, Lecturer, Department of Health Sciences, University of York
- Murtada Alsaif, Pharmacist
- Ian Anderson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manchester
- Steve Appleton, Managing Director, Contact Consulting
- Golnar Aref-Adib, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow at UCL and Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust
- Douglas Badenoch, Director of Minervation Ltd
- Joe Barnby, Research Assistant, University College London
- John Baker, Chair of Mental Health Nursing at the University of Leeds
- Jonny Benjamin, Mental Health Campaigner, Film Producer, Public Speaker, Writer and Vlogger
- Laura Bennett, Research Assistant for the Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme (LeDeR) at University of Bristol
- Victoria Betton, Director of mHabitat
- Vishal Bhavsar, Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Training Fellow in Epidemiology, Institute of Psychiatry
- Helen Bould, Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Fellow at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
- Simon Bradstreet, Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow
- Rachel Brand, Clinical Psychologist and Research Fellow at Phoenix Australia: Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, The University of Melbourne
- Josefien Breedvelt, Research Officer, Mental Health Foundation
- Simon Brett , Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner & MSci student at the University of Reading
- Amy Broadbent, Research Assistant, Cambridge
- Matthew Broome, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
- Mark Brown, Development Director of Social Spider CIC
- Stefan Brugger, NIHR Academic Clinical Research Fellow at UCL
- Martin Brunet, GP from the Binscombe Medical Centre
- Kjetil Gundro Brurberg, Researcher in the Division of Primary Care and Clinical Procedures, Norwegian Knowledge Center for Health Services in Public Health, Oslo, Norway
- Jennifer Burgess, Academic Clinical Fellow in General Adult Psychiatry in Newcastle
- Lisa Burscheidt, Assistant Librarian at North East London NHS Foundation Trust
- Alastair Canaway, Research Fellow, University of Warwick
- Victoria Carlisle, PhD Student, Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, University of Bristol
- Sarah Carr, Associate Professor of Mental Health Research at Middlesex University, Independent Consultant at Sarah Carr and Associates Ltd
- Brant Cebulla, Development Director for the Vitamin D Council in California, USA
- Emma Cernis, Research Assistant, Oxford
- Iain Chalmers, Coordinator, James Lind Initiative
- Sarah Chapman, Knowledge Broker at UK Cochrane Centre
- Paul Christiansen, Lecturer at the University of Liverpool
- Andrea Cipriani, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford; Editor in Chief of Evidence-Based Mental Health
- Natasha Clarke, PhD Student at the University of Liverpool
- Alys Cole-King, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, the Royal College of Psychiatrists Spokesperson on Suicide and Self harm, and the Clinical Director of Connecting with People
- Dean Connolly, Student at University College London
- Nicola Coop, Assistant Psychologist
- Mick Cooper, Professor of Counselling, School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Scotland
- Jake Crawshaw, PhD candidate at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, King’s College London
- Ioana Cristea, Associate Professor at Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca and a Research Fellow at the University of Pisa, Italy
- Jazz Croft, PhD candidate, Centre for Academic Mental Health, University of Bristol
- Ian Cummins, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of Salford
- Emily Currell, MSc Student at University College London
- Sasha Danilina, PhD Student at University College London
- Suzanne Dash, Graduate-Entry Medicine Student at the University of Oxford
- Geoff Davies, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, University of Surrey
- Kelly Davies, Lecturer in Mental Health, University of York
- John M Davis, Professor of Psychiatry and Research Professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago
- Jennifer de Bayer, Research Coordinator, Centre for Statistics in Medicine, Oxford University
- Caroline De Brun, Knowledge and Evidence Manager, Public Health England Knowledge and Library Services
- Angharad de Cates, Psychiatry Registrar and Honorary Research Fellow at Warwick Medical School
- Jill Domoney, Clinical Psychologist and Researcher, Section of Women’s Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London
- Ailsa Donnelly, Lay Chair of the PRIMER group
- Muna Dubad, PhD Student, University of Warwick
- Jay Duckworth, PhD Student, University of Liverpool
- Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Professor at Exeter University
- Norah Essali, Medical student, University of Kalamoon, Syria
- Pete Etchells, Senior Lecturer in Biological Psychology, Bath Spa University
- Alison Faulkner, Survivoer Researcher and Trainer in Mental Health
- Mina Fazel, Associate Professor in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Oxford University Department of Psychiatry and Consultant in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Matt Field, Professor of Psychology at the University of Liverpool
- Caroline Fiennes, Director, Giving Evidence
- Meg Fluharty, Research Assistant, Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, University of Bristol
- Andrés Fonseca, Consultant Psychiatrist, CEO of Health eLiving Partnership, Honorary Lecturer at UCL
- Tamsin Ford, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Exeter
- Alexander Foster, Research Worker in Global Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London
- Una Foye, Research Officer, Mental Health Foundation
- Suzi Gage, PhD Epidemiologist at the University of Bristol & Blogger at the Guardian Science Network
- Linda Gask, Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester
- Clarissa Giebel, Researcher and PhD student, PSSRU, University of Manchester
- Guy Goodwin, Professor of Psychiatry, University Department of Psychiatry, Oxford
- Amy Green, Academic Clinical Lecturer at the University of Bristol
- Ellen Grimas, PhD Student, Imperial College
- Ian Hamilton, Lecturer in Mental Health in the Department of Health Sciences at York University
- Ben Hannigan, Reader in Mental Health Nursing in the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University
- Keir Harding, Occupational Therapist, Cynnwys (together), the personality disorder service in Cardiff
- Amanda Harris, Psychologist and Director of the Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network
- Judith Harrison, Welsh Clinical Academic Training Fellow, Cardiff University
- Camille Hart, Psychiatric Trainee Doctor, Queen’s University, Belfast
- Helge Hasselmann, Research Masters Student in Clinical and Cognitive Neurosciences at Maastricht University
- Simon Hatcher, Full Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Ottawa
- Joseph Hayes, Clinical Training Fellow, UCL Division of Psychiatry
- Laura Hemming, PhD Student, University of Manchester
- Jessamy Hibberd, Chartered Clinical Psychologist
- Kerrie-Anne Ho, PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales, Australia
- Chris Hollis, Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Nottingham and Consultant in Developmental Neuropsychiatry with Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
- Mark Horowitz, Training Psychiatrist from Australia who is completing a PhD at King’s College London
- Maxine Howard, PhD student at University College London
- Dochka Hristova, Project Coordinator for the National Elf Service
- Samei Huda, Consultant Psychiatrist, Pennine Care, Manchester
- Liz Hughes, Professor of Mental Health at University of Huddersfield and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
- Jane Iles, Clinical Psychologist working in CAMHS and Research Associate at Imperial College London
- Pamela Jacobsen, Clinical Psychologist and NIHR Research Fellow at King’s College London
- Alex Jarram, PhD student at University College London
- Sameer Jauhar, Research Fellow and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry
- Sam Jee, Research Associate at the University of Manchester
- Sonia Johnson, Professor of Social and Community Psychiatry at UCL, Director of the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit
- Susie Johnson, Recent Graduate from Bristol University
- Mandy Johnstone, Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellow and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, University of Edinburgh
- Andrew Jones, Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Liverpool
- Ian Jones, Professor of Perinatal Psychiatry at Cardiff University, Director of the Welsh National Centre for Mental Health
- Jonathan Jones, PhD Psychology student at the University of Exeter
- Mona Jones, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, AnDY Research clinic, University of Reading
- Dan Joyce, Clinical Lecturer at Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, Junior Doctor in general adult psychiatry
- Joe Judge, Clinical Psychologist, Hamilton Psychological Therapies Team, Lanarkshire, Scotland
- Eleanor Kennedy, PhD Student at Bristol Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, University of Bristol
- Patrick Kennedy-Williams, Trainee Clinical Psychologist & Doctoral Student, University of Oxford
- Olivia Kirtley, Research Assistant, University of Glasgow
- Sarah Knowles, Research Fellow, NIHR School for Primary Care Research
- Stanley Kutcher, Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health and the Director WHO Collaborating Care in Mental Health Policy and Training at Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre in Canada
- Jennifer Laidlaw, PGY-5 Resident in Psychiatry, University of Toronto
- Nicky Lambert, Director of Teaching and Learning Mental Health, Social Work and Integrative Medicine at Middlesex University
- Alex Langford, Psychiatrist, Oxford
- Jennifer Lau, University Lecturer at the University of Oxford. Director of the Researching Emotional Disorders and Development (REDD) lab
- Keith Laws, Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology at the University of Hertfordshire
- Kirsten Lawson, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist and Clinical Lead for Liaison Psychiatry Services at Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership NHS Trust
- Caroline Leah, Senior Lecturer and Social Worker based at Manchester Metropolitan University
- William Lee, Clinical Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychiatry at Plymouth University
- Simon Leigh, Health Economist at Lifecode® Solutions and Nexus Clinical Analytics, Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool
- Gemma Lewis, University College London
- Karina Lovell, Director of Research and Professor of Mental Health, University of Manchester
- Colleen Loo, Professor of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Australia
- Raluca Lucacel, PhD Student, Cluj Napoca, Romania
- Maartje Luijten, Assistant Professor, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
- Lucy Maddox, NHS Clinical Psychologist, Lecturer and BSA Media Fellow
- Sarah Man, Staff Nurse, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit
- Sammy Man, Clinical Psychologist
- Farhana Mann, Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellow at University College London and Specialist Registrar (ST6) in General Adult Psychiatry in North London
- Elena Marcus, Research Assistant at the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health and University College London
- Joanna Martin, PhD Student at Cardiff University
- Steven Marwaha, Reader, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick
- Lisa Marzano, Associate Professor in Psychology at Middlesex University
- Olivia Maynard, Research Associate, Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at the University of Bristol
- Edel Mc Glanaghy, Trainee Clinical Psychologist at the University of Edinburgh
- Sarah McDonald, Clinical Psychologist
- Iain McDougall, Specialist trainee in General Adult Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Belfast
- Carla McEnery, Provisional Psychologist and PhD candidate, Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne
- Andrew McIntosh, Professor of Biological Psychiatry in the University of Edinburgh Division of Psychiatry
- Kwame McKenzie, CEO of Wellesley Institute
- John McGowan, Director and Academic Director of the Clinical Psychology Training Scheme at the Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology, Kent
- Kate McLaughlin, Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington, USA
- Mark Monaghan, Lecturer in Criminology and Social Policy at the University of Loughborough
- Paul Morrison, Psychiatrist and Researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, KCL
- Michelle Moulds, Professor and PLuS Alliance Fellow, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Australia
- Claire Mokrysz, PhD Student, University College London
- John Moriarty, Research Fellow, University of Belfast
- Marcus Munafò, Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Bristol
- Monisha Nahar, MSc Student, UCL
- Akshay Nair, Wolfson Clinical Research Fellow, University College London
- Josephine Neale, Trainee Psychiatrist in North London
- Natalie Nelissen, Research Fellow at mHabitat
- Rosalyn Nelson, Assistant Psychologist, North Wilts Memory Service, Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
- Nicola Newhouse, Researcher at Health Experiences Research Group, University of Oxford
- Claire Niedzwiedz, Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health at the University of Edinburgh
- Aileen O’Brien, Reader in Psychiatry and Education & Dean for Students at St George’s University of London
- Elly O’Brien, Information Scientist, London
- Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University
- Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Consultant in Public Health in Bradford & Airedale and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds
- Chris O’Sullivan, Mental Health Foundation
- Michael Ostacher, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine
- Gozde Ozakinci, Health Psychologist and Lecturer in health psychology at the University of St Andrews
- Geoff Page, Research Fellow, University of York
- Laurence Palfreyman, Assistant Psychologist in South London
- Carmine Pariante, Professor of Biological Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust
- Christopher Pell, In-patient General Adult Psychiatrist at the Susan Carnegie Centre in Angus, Scotland for NHS Tayside
- Serap Pinar, Biomedical and Molecular Science Research (M.Sc) from King’s College London
- Alexandra Pitman, Honorary Research Associate in the UCL Division of Psychiatry, Macmillan Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at St George’s Hospital
- Belinda Platt, Post-Doc at the LMU University Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- Amy Price, Trustee of the ThinkWell charity where she leads the PLOT-IT (Public Led Online Trials-Infrastructure and Tools) project
- Paul Ramchandani, Reader in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry & Deputy Head, The Centre for Mental Health, Imperial College London
- Matt Ravenhall, Final year Biology student at the University of York
- Stefan Rennick-Egglestone, Digital Research Specialist, University of Nottingham
- Laoise Renwick, Lecturer at the University of Manchester
- Shirley Reynolds, Director of the Charlie Waller Institute and Professor of Evidence Based Psychological Therapies at the University of Reading
- Thomas Richardson, Principal Clinical Psychologist at Solent NHS Trust
- Abi Rose, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Liverpool
- Diana Rose, Professor of User-Led Research, Head of Section and Co-director Service User Research Enterprise (SURE), King’s College London
- Sarah Rowe, Lecturer on the MSc Clinical Mental Health Sciences and MSc Mental Health Sciences Research, UCL Division of Psychiatry
- Emma Saddleton, Research Worker and part-time MSc student at the Institute of Psychiatry, London
- Tatiana Salisbury, Lecturer in Global Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London
- Christopher Sampson, Health Economist at the University of Nottingham
- Martyna Sawicka, Data Collection Coordinator, Arizona Twin Project at Arizona State University
- Lucas Shelemy, PhD Researcher, University of Reading
- Andrew Shepherd, Doctoral research Fellow at the University of Manchester and Higher Trainee in Forensic Psychiatry
- Hilary Shepherd, MSc Dementia student at University College London
- Lucy Simons, Research Fellow at NIHR MindTech Healthcare Technology Cooperative, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham
- Mark Smith, IAPT Clinician working for Steps2Change and independent Psychotherapist Trainer
- Francesca Solmi, Research Associate, Division of Psychiatry, University College London
- Andrew Sommerlad, PhD Fellow, University College London
- Emily Stapley, PhD Student at University College London
- David Steele, Junior Doctor with an interest in psychology, psychiatry and public health
- Becci Strawbridge, Mental Health Research, IoPPN, King’s College London
- Caroline Struthers, Education and Training Manager for the EQUATOR Network
- Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use, Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University
- Rebecca Syed, Researcher, King’s College London
- Edward Sykes, Senior Press Manager and Head of Mental Health & Neuroscience, Science Media Centre
- Danny Taggart, Academic Director, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, University of Essex
- Marcus Tan, Academic Clinical Fellow at Plymouth University School of Medicine
- Rupert Thurston, Junior Doctor working in General Adult Psychiatry in the West Midlands
- Caroline Tomes, Public Health Specialty Registrar currently working in Cambridge
- André Tomlin, Managing Director of Minervation Ltd
- Derek Tracy, Consultant Psychiatrist and Associate Clinical Director for crisis, inpatient, and rehabilitation services at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust
- Alison Turner, Head of the Evidence Analysis team within the Strategy Unit at NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit
- Alan Underwoord, Specialist Clinical Psychologist
- Raphael Underwood, PhD candidate at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
- Rachel Upthegrove, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Psychiatry, University of Birmingham
- Kathryn Walsh, Research Associate at the University of Birmingham
- Joanne Wallace, Graduate Entry Medical Student at The University of Warwick
- Michael Walton, PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University
- Fiona Warner-Gale, Joint Director of Associate Development Solutions Ltd
- Andrew Watson, Clinical Research Fellow in Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh
- Jasmin Wertz, PhD Student, Kings College London
- Simon Wessely, Chair of Psychological Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences (IoPPN), King’s College London
- Lucy Willetts, Chartered Clinical Psychologist and Accredited CBT Therapist
- Sarsha Wilson, Research Assistant at the NIHR Oxford Cognitive Health Clinical Research Facility
- Katrina Witt, Research Fellow with the Centre for Suicide Research at the University of Oxford
- Stephen Wood, Professor of Adolescent Brain Development and Mental Health at the University of Birmingham
- Fabio Zucchelli, Sport and Exercise Psychology MSc student
Who decides what evidence is included on the website?
We scour over 400 databases, journals, websites and other feeds to bring you the best available mental health evidence. Items are selected using an evidence-based inclusion criteria to ensure they are relevant to UK practice and based on high quality research, policy and guidance.
The selection process has no input from any external bodies, publishers, sponsors or commercial organisations.
We critically appraise the material we find using the CASP critical appraisal checklists.
- André Tomlin: Mental Elf Guru. The Lancet Psychiatry, January 2016.
- Keeping up to date with reliable mental health research: the Minervation white paper. Douglas Badenoch and André Tomlin, 19th May 2015.
- Keeping up to date with mental health research. André Tomlin, The Guardian, 15th Apr 2013.
- Treating mental illness in the digital age. Pete Etchells, Discover Magazine, 13 Feb 2013.
- The Mental Elf. Royal College of Psychiatrists useful resources, eNewsletter, Sep 2012.
Are there more elves for different health topics?
We are adding to our National Elf Service all the time. Check out these other elves: