I’m in London today for the 2019 #MQScienceMeeting, which brings together “researchers across different disciplines to explore cutting-edge new ways to understand, treat and prevent mental illness.”
This annual event is organised by MQ Mental Health (2019 programme here) and I’m lucky to have covered the conference for the last few years with our #BeyondTheRoom live tweeting and podcasting service.
The main themes being explored this year through keynotes, symposia, talks, posters, panels and podcasts are:
- Loneliness & mental health: a two-way relationship?
- Tracking the life-long effects of mental illness
- Mind & matter: intersections of physical & mental health
- Tackling suicide & self-harm
As regular readers know only too well, we elves never miss a chance to highlight the latest evidence-based research, so our blog today is a whistle-stop tour of recent posts relevant to discussions at #MQScienceMeeting.
1. Loneliness and mental health: a two-way relationship?
Artists, musicians and film-makers have long been interested in loneliness and mental distress, but it’s only very recently that researchers and policy-makers have joined in. However, loneliness is an increasing public health concern that is largely ignored in mental health service delivery and policy. Chronic loneliness is experienced by approximately 10-15% of the general population across all ages, and feelings of loneliness are more prevalent among people with mental health problems than in the general population.
We’ve covered a fair bit of loneliness and mental health research over the last couple of years:
- Tackling loneliness in people with mental health problems – a blog by #MQScienceMeeting speaker Timothy Matthews, in which he reflects on a 2017 scoping review by Mann et al: A life less lonely – the state of the art in interventions to reduce loneliness in people with mental health problems.
- Loneliness in psychosis and related psychological and social factors – a blog by Jingyi Wang on a 2018 systematic review by Lim et al on loneliness in psychosis, which shows that the relationship between loneliness and psychosis remains poorly understood due to a lack of high quality studies.
- Do you have my back? Perceived social support, loneliness, and its impact on mental health outcomes – a blog by Michelle Lim which summarises a 2018 systematic review by Wang et al on the associations between loneliness and perceived social support and outcomes of mental health problems.
The Loneliness and Mental Health Symposium at #MQScienceMeeting features talks from Pamela Qualter, Luc Goossens, Timothy Matthews and Jude Stansfield, and there’s also a keynote from Sonia Johnson who heads-up the new Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health network. I recorded this podcast with Sonia in 2018 as she prepared for a WeMHNurses Tweet Chat on Loneliness, Social Isolation and Mental Health.
2. Tracking the life-long effects of mental illness
“Much of our scientific investigation of mental health challenges is based on limited ‘snapshots’. A longitudinal approach where we use multiple measurements of the same individual, allows us to study mental health changes within the same people over days, weeks or even years” – Rogier Kievet, #MQScienceMeeting speaker.
We have recently explored mental health trajectories in blogs about depression and neurodevelopment amongst other things:
- Trajectories of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents – a blog by Jess Bone on a 2017 systematic review of longitudinal studies by Shore et al, which explores the different trajectories of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents, and the factors that might help predict or protect young people.
- Genetic predictors of depression trajectories in adolescence – a blog by Megan Skelton on a 2018 study by Rice et al, which uses polygenic scores in the context of longitudinal developmental data, to characterise developmental trajectories and the role of neuropsychiatric genetic risk variants in early-onset depression.
- Early life deprivation, neurodevelopment, mental health and resilience: ERA study – a blog by André Tomlin on the 2017 ERA (English and Romanian Adoptees) study by Sonuga-Barke et al, which explores the neurodevelopmental and mental health trajectories of Romanian orphans who experienced severe levels of early life deprivation.
I recorded this 2017 podcast with Prof Edmund Sonuga-Barke on the day his ERA study was published in The Lancet:
3. Mind and matter: intersections of physical & mental health
There is a real sense of cross-disciplinary action regarding the physical health of people living with severe mental illness. “About time!” I hear you cry, and you’d be spot on. We’ve known for a very long time that the life expectancy of people with schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar and other severe mental illnesses is 15-20 years shorter than the rest of the population, but this mortality gap has not been closed.
We’ve explored the intersections of physical and mental health far too many times to list here, but here are some of the key blogs from the last few years:
- People with severe mental illness die younger and things are getting worse – a blog by Judith Harrison and Derek Tracy on a 2017 cohort study by Hayes et al, which shows that the mortality gap is increasing for people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
- Physical health inequalities in primary care – a blog by Andy Bell from Centre for Mental Health, which calls for action in response to the 2018 Public Health England briefing on severe mental illness and physical health inequalities.
- The burden of mortality and morbidity carried by marginalised populations – a blog by Noortje Uphoff on a 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis by Alridge et al, which looked at morbidity and mortality in homeless individuals, prisoners, sex workers and individuals with substance use disorders in high-income countries.
I recorded this podcast with colleagues from the Equally Well Collaborative in the run-up to their launch in 2018:
4. Tackling suicide and self-harm
- Youth suicide prevention research needs a shake-up: lives depend on it – a blog by Pooky Knightsmith on a 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis entitled: “What Works in Youth Suicide Prevention?” by Robinson et al.
- Integrated Motivational Volitional model of suicidal behaviour – a blog by Alexandra Pitman and Lisa Marzano on the IMV model of suicidal behaviour by Rory O’Connor of the Glasgow University Suicide Research Laboratory.
- Does self-harm in young people increase the risk of subsequent suicide? – a blog by Pooky Knightsmith on a 2018 Swedish cohort study by Beckman et al, which found that all youths presenting to a clinical setting with self-harm were at an elevated future risk of suicide.
I recorded this podcast interview with Rory O’Connor in 2018 as part of the #SeeingFurther Lancet Psychiatry Commission on the Future of Psychological Treatments:
Follow the #MQScienceMeeting online
As always, we’re providing a live stream of the goings-on at the conference. You can: