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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life SciencesHealth & Medicine

Mental Health

Our expertise in child development, psychological interventions and affective neuroscience combine to deliver cutting edge research that has the potential to improve mental health treatments and wellbeing across the lifespan.

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With one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, one in six people reporting a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week, the need for effective and accessible services and treatments in mental health are a priority.

Southampton’s mental health research activity brings together medics, psychologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists and health scientists to deliver translational research that will positively impact on people’s lives.

Working with NHS organisations and schools, our research addresses mental health across the lifespan from child development to isolation in older people. Our research is tackling some of the most common conditions such as anxiety and depression; finding new ways to reduce the harms from alcohol and developing interventions to improve workforce wellbeing.

Our research focuses across three areas:

  • Developmental origins and early intervention: Our research examines the mechanisms and developmental pathways that underlie risk and resilience in mental health, and that inform the early identification and treatment of mental health problems in childhood and adolescence.
  • Therapeutic innovation: We are translating our basic research in clinical psychology, psychiatry, primary care and behavioural medicine into effective and efficient psychological interventions to improve mental health and wellbeing in children and adults.
  • Translational neuroscience for mental health: Combining our expertise in molecular neuroscience, psychopharmacology, computer science and neuroimaging we are evaluating new treatment targets and identifying biomarkers that help personalise treatments and predict therapeutic response.

We are one of the largest providers of post graduate mental health training and research in the UK, with more than 100 trainee clinical psychologists, CBT therapists, PhD students and academic fellows in psychiatry. Our graduate researchers and trainees work closely with our academics and clinicians to create a vibrant interdisciplinary research community that is innovating research and treatment in mental health.

Related Staff Member

Key words

ADHD, Anxiety, Children, Depression, Interdisciplinary, Mental health wellbeing, Psychology, Southampton.

Please see a selection of postgraduate courses related to this subject area below. 

For the full range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University of Southampton, please visit our courses webpages


MSc Health Psychology

Explore how psychological knowledge can improve wellbeing and manage chronic disorders with our MSc in Health Psychology.

PhD Psychology

This PhD psychology doctorate is a pure research programme.

MSc Health Sciences

Build your own degree tailored to your ambitions and professional interests, and enhance your career, with our flexible MSc Professional Practice in Health Sciences

MSc Mental Health Studies

The MSc in mental health studies is a top up degree for graduates who have completed the two year postgraduate diploma in mental health nursing.

PhD Programme - Medicine

Full and part-time PhDs in a broad range of specialist areas in Medicine, including biomedicine, research in clinical environments and population-based statistical studies.

DM Programme - Medicine

Part-time degree programmes are aimed at students with a clinical background, who hold a medical qualification that is recognised by the UK GMC & are employed in a hospital or institution.

MSc Public Health

Our challenging MSc Public Health programme will prepare you for a rewarding career helping to improve the health of individuals and communities not only in the UK, but around the world. 


Our researchers are collaborating with a novel study to better understand possible connections between mental health problems in young adults.

Using structural neuroimaging (fMRI, MRI and DTI) and genome wide association analysis, the STRATIFY study examines how psychiatric disorders affect the brain. The study aims to recruit people with mental health issues including: depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alcohol use disorder, eating disorders and psychosis, and identify biological and social features that may be specific to each condition.

So far, our team has recruited 150 participants.

The results will further our understanding of mental health problems and help clinicians develop new diagnoses and personalised therapies to target certain symptoms in each individual.

ContactProf Julia Sinclair

Abreast of health

Our research teams are leading a pioneering national initiative to incorporate alcohol awareness into breast screening and breast cancer clinic appointments.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, with one in eight women likely to be diagnosed at some point in their lifetime – but around 30 per cent of cases may be preventable through changes in lifestyle.

Abreast of Health is a web app designed to be accessed by women in breast clinic waiting areas on a tablet computer. More than 1,300 women have been involved in its design and testing since 2017, including 214 in the final phase.

The app gives information on the association between breast cancer and alcohol, how much alcohol is in a drink, personalised feedback on alcohol intake in units per week, and drinking risk levels and example goals for maintaining low-risk drinking or reducing alcohol consumption.

The app has received positive feedback from women who have already used it and our teams are currently seeking funding to test the app against standard care in symptomatic breast clinics in two UK hospital.

Contact: Prof Julia Sinclair

Centre for Workforce Wellbeing

Southampton researchers are working in collaboration with Health Education England Wessex in the Centre for Workforce Wellbeing. The Centre is committed to working with the Health Education England Mental Wellbeing Review Commission and with national and international partners, to generate evidence and develop practical interventions that will improve the working lives of NHS staff and learners. 

The Centre brings together expertise is psychiatry, psychology, clinical practice and governance to deliver programmes of work that:

  • Focus on interventions for workforce wellbeing, rather than adding to literature which describes the problems
  • Use a multi-professional approach
  • Build collaborations with national and international bodies with complementary interests
  • Aim to establish the centre as a world leader in the field of healthcare workforce wellbeing
  • Identify and support applications for future funding

Contacts: Dr Gemma Simons , Prof David Baldwin, Prof Julia Sinclair

Depression and PROMDEP

Statistics show that around one in six adults experience symptoms of a common mental health problem such as depression every week. It is a health issue that is regularly seen in GP surgeries up and down the country. Our researchers are conducting a new study to assess whether giving personal feedback to people being treated for depression will help them get better more quickly.

Evidence suggests that using patient reported outcome measures (or 'PROMs') which involve patients filling out questionnaires to record their symptoms and feeding back the results to the health professionals looking after them has some benefit.

The Southampton study is testing this more widely within general practice settings across the UK. Participating general practices are randomly allocated to either the intervention group or the control group. The intervention consists of patients completing a questionnaire about their symptoms. They also receive written feedback from their practitioners about their condition along with a list of possible treatment options. This is all discussed face to face. Results are compared to the control group, which is not using the questionnaires.

General practice is the setting in which most people with depression are treated in the UK, so it's important to test whether PROMs can be helpful in that setting.

Contacts: Prof Tony KendrickProf Michael Moore

Evidence synthesis and development of intervention strategies for ADHD

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is estimated to affect around seven per cent of children globally. The treatment of ADHD includes pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. While medication is an efficacious component of the multimodal treatment approach,  for a number of children possible side effects may be a concern. Non-pharmacological treatments complement medication in a multimodal treatment plan, targeting not only the core symptoms of ADHD, but also related impairment.

Southampton researchers have carried out the most comprehensive and rigorous synthesis, via advanced meta-analytic methods, of the evidence on the efficacy and/or tolerability of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for ADHD. They are also applying innovative meta-analytic techniques to gain insight into the predictors of response to treatment at the individual patient level.

Southampton researchers have also developed the first parent-training programme specifically focused on ADHD-related behaviours.  The New Forest Parenting Programme (NFPP) is an eight to 12-week home-based individualised programme, which develops parents’ understanding of their children’s behaviour, promotes better communication patterns to strengthen the parent-child relationship, and provides strategies for parents to more effectively manage their children’s behaviour.

Research at Southampton has informed the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for practitioners treating children with ADHD, recommending access to parent-training/education programmes for parents of children with ADHD and associated difficult behaviours.

ContactsProf Margaret Thompson, Dr Jana KreppnerProf Samuele Cortese and Dr Hanna Kovshoff

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