Mental Health Research Unit



The Mental Health Research Unit is located within the Health Services Research Section in ScHARR and comprises a multidisciplinary, multi-professional group of academic staff, Research Fellows, Research Associates and administrative staff. Currently MHRU includes both clinical and non-clinical academics, as well as honorary members of staff. The MHRU builds on a legacy of highly successful mental health research in Sheffield, with particular expertise in the development and evaluation of psychological therapies.

We aim to be a centre of excellence for applied mental health research that improves the treatment and care of those with mental illness, their families and carers. 



1. The evaluation of mental health care, including physical, psychological, social and systems-level interventions.

2. The development and evaluation of novel interventions to improve outcomes for people with mental health problems.

3. Mixed methods, mechanism-based research to elucidate and model variations in mental health needs and outcomes between people, places and services.

4. The development, validation and evaluation of implementation of measures of professional- and patient rated measures of outcome (including quality of life and wellbeing) and experience in people with mental illness.

Current projects

Pragmatic, Randomised Controlled Trial assessing the non-Inferiority of Counselling and its Effectiveness for Depression (PRaCTICED)

The PRaCTICED trial is being undertaken to determine the clinical and cost-effectiveness of Counselling for Depression (CfD) compared with CBT as delivered in primary care for clients with moderate or severe depression.

More information can be found on the PRaCTICED project page.

CLAHRC2: Mental Health & Comorbidity Theme for Yorks & Humber

Information on the Mental Health & Comorbidity Theme is here. As part of CLAHRC, the study "Supporting the Integrated Management of Multi-morbidity (SIMM)" is addressing the implementation challenges of integrated care for patients with both a long term physical condition and depression within primary care.

More information can be found here on the SIMM research pages

Recent research
  • Understanding and Preventing the Adverse Effects of Psychological Therapies (AdEPT)
  • Improving Quality and Effectiveness of Services Therapies and Self-management on longer term depression (IQuESTS)

A complete list of publications for the MHRU members can be found on Google Scholar. Should you have any difficulties in obtaining copies of these publications please do not hesitate to contact us by email.

Thinking of undertaking research?

If you work in the NHS or an allied field, you may be wondering what's involved in undertaking a research degree. This page and the others in this section (under 'Research in Mental Health' at the left of this text) may give you some information to help you decide.

Isn't research just for academics?

For NHS mental health staff, a research project is a great opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in areas such as:

  • Project management
  • Independence and self-direction
  • Information retrieval, analyis and presentation
  • Enhanced clinical and managerial knowledge and skills
  • Thinking and acting systematically, rigorously and critically
  • Technical skills such as statistics or running focus groups

For some people this may be the beginning of a research career, but most return to practice or management with an increased skill set, knowledge, confidence and vision. This promotes the wellbeing of their patients and services as well as being a helpful career progression.

Why the mental health research unit?

The MHRU has an established record of successfully supporting NHS staff and others through Masters, MPhil and doctoral research degrees (MD and PhD). The professional backgrounds of section staff include psychiatry, nursing, clinical psychology, occupational therapy and teaching. Many staff retain senior clinical posts in the NHS which gives them a foot in the 'real' world of practice. Most also have further experience and training in some form of psychological therapy such as psychoanalytic psychotherapy, cognitive analytic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy or the arts therapies.

What are the options?

Many NHS staff and others with professional qualifications may be able to register directly for an MPhil research degree, during the course of which they can apply for an upgrade to an MD (for medical staff) or a PhD. Those who want to start with something less ambitious could consider a ScHARR taught Masters degree which could be an end in itself or a stepping stone to a research degree.


In the Mental Health Research Unit, we have over 10 years’ experience of providing consultancy and innovation & knowledge transfer (IKT) activities in the domain of mental health, covering public, industry and third sector partners as well as other policy, decision-making and academic collaborations in health to optimise impact and knowledge mobilisation.. We will support ScHARR’s IKT Strategy which seeks to extend the impact of our research by applying our expert knowledge and skills in the real world of health and social care. We will work with partners in industry, public and third sectors as well as other policy, decision-making and academic collaborations 

Current projects
  • Evaluation of Specialist Psychotherapy Services in Sheffield Health & Social Care Trust. Supporting the preparation of a "Research for Patient Benefit" bid to study dental phobia. Led by Dave Saxon
Completed projects
  • National Audit of Psychological Therapies for Royal College of Psychiatrists Centre for Quality Improvement. 2010-11 and 2012-13. Results presented at Savoy Conference, London, Nov 2011 and Nov 2013. Led by Dave Saxon
  • Scoping Study for an Oral History of the Talking Therapies in the UK for National Life Stories at the British Library, 2010-2011. The report is copyrighted by the BL so not available to download but a link to the BL pages is here. Led by Rebecca Hutten.
  • Mental health services for Armed Forces veterans- Evaluation of community mental health projects for ex-service men, Open Mind, 2011, Issue 65. Led by Kim Dent-Brown.

To explore opportunities for Consultancy, Innovation & Knowledge Transfer in Mental Health, please contact the  head of the group, Scott Weich.


We aim to provide excellence in our contribution to Mental Health related teaching across the School’s portfolio, which includes Masters courses run by ScHARR, those run jointly with other Departments where appropriate, and the MBChB medical undergraduate degree. Along with contribution to individual modules and teaching sessions, we bring this same excellence and commitment to supervision of Masters dissertations in topics relating to Mental Health.

We will look to increase the number of high quality PGR applications that we attract in topics relevant to our research themes as listed above, and to supervise successful applicants to completion. We will also support MHRU members in applications to undertake PhDs by publication or via Fellowship applications.

Current and recent PGR students

Emily Wood- the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) for the treatment of long term depression as part of the improving Quality and Effectiveness of Services, Therapies and Self-management in longer term depression (IQuESTS).

Lizzie Taylor-Buck- Research into the emerging practice of dyadic art therapy for the treatment of attachment disturbances in children.

Chris Blackmore- The role of emotions in online learning in psychotherapy.

Rebecca Hutten- Professional identity and practice in the new psychotherapy workforce.

Kate Doran- What is helpful in guided self help for depression and anxiety? Implications for stepped care.

Short courses

We are looking to develop short courses in areas where MHRU members have specific expertise and where there is a proven market for education/training in these topics. No courses available at present. Details of the next ones will appear here.

NHS priorities

In the Mental Health group, we are happy to be responsive to developing needs for mental health services research relevant teaching, commissioned by the NHS partners.


To explore opportunities for Teaching in Mental Health, please contact Chris Blackmore for further discussion.

Current staff

Below is a list of all current staff in the MHRU. Each person's name links through to their personal profile where available.

Name Position Email address Telephone
Alhaj, Hamid Consultant Psychiatrist and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer +44(0)114 226 1588
Barkham, Michael Professor of Psychology +44(0)114 222 26527
Blackmore, Christopher Senior University Teacher +44(0)114 22 20848
Connell, Janice
Research Associate in Mental Health Outcomes Research +44 (0)114 22 25208
Constantine, Abby Personal Assistant to Professor Scott Weich; Administrator to the MHRU +44 (0)114 22 20753
Crimlisk, Helen Honorary Senior Lecturer +44 (0)114 2764239
Delgadillo, Jaime Lecturer in Clinical Psychology +44 (0)114 222 6614
Easton, Katherine Research Associate / Research Scientist +44 (0)114 222 0690
Firth, Nick Research Associate +44 (0)114 222 6387
Hardy, Gillian Professor of Psychology +44 (0)114 222 6571
Hulin, Joe Research Assistant +44 (0)114 222 4054
McKeown, Jane University Teacher +44 (0)114 222 2071
Ohlsen, Sally Research Assistant +44 (0)114 222 6388
Parry, Glenys D Honorary Professor in Applied Psychological Therapies +44(0)114 22 20753
Ridgway, Sue Project Clerical Officer (+44)(0)114 22 20817
Taylor Buck, Elizabeth Research Fellow +44 (0)114 22 25452
Weich, Scott Professor of Mental Health +44 (0)114 22 2 0856
Wood, Emily Research Associate in Psychological Therapies +44 (0)114 22 20753

The Mental Health group has close relationships with other research groups and Sections within ScHARR. For example, we collaborate internally with Professor John Brazier through the Department of Health's Policy Research Unit in Economic Evaluation of Health and Care Interventions

Beyond ScHARR, the Mental Health group is part of a cross-faculty collaboration with the Department of Psychology as the Centre for Psychological Services Research. This Centre facilitates research collaborations between health services researchers, psychological researchers, NHS practitioners, managers and service users. This collaboration has led to a range of grant funded research and consultancy projects, including randomised trials, service evaluations and translational research on service innovation and implementation. For example, CPSR delivered the first external, independent evaluation of the "Improving Access to Psychological Therapies" programme and has recently won a bid to deliver a randomised controlled trial of Counselling for Depression versus Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for moderate to severe depression.


The group has an established record of conducting research, running psychological services trials, providing consultancy and successfully supporting NHS staff and others through Masters, MPhil and doctoral research degrees (MD and PhD). The professional backgrounds of section staff include psychiatry, nursing, clinical psychology, occupational therapy and teaching. Many staff retain senior clinical posts in the NHS which gives them a foot in the 'real' world of practice. Most also have further experience and training in some form of psychological therapy such as psychoanalytic psychotherapy, cognitive analytic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy or the arts therapies.

Contact us

How to find us

Postal address
School of Health and Related Research
University of Sheffield
Regent Court
30 Regent Street
Sheffield S1 4DA

Find us on the map

The Mental Health group is located at Regent Court which is within the University of Sheffield Campus, to the West of the city centre. Regent Court is located on Regent Street (Building 166 on this map), just off West Street. The Innovation Centre is nearby (Building 155 on this map).

Map showing how to find Regent Court and The Innovation Centre

The journey from Sheffield Station to Regent Court is just a mile and takes about twenty minutes. It also takes about twenty minutes to reach us by bus or tram (use the blue or yellow tram towards Malin Bridge or Middlewood, alighting at West Street). A taxi from the station takes about ten minutes when traffic is light, but allow longer at busy times.

When travelling by road, please be aware of the one-way system and ring road on the approach to Regent Street, which has metered parking. There is a pay and display car park accessed via Portobello Street, just off from Broad Lane, which allows longer stays.

Access by the Regent Street entrance is by swipe card only, so go all the way to the top and turn right opposite the church into the pedestrian precinct, which is shown as Portobello on the map above. About twenty metres on the right is an archway. Go through the archway and turn right, enter the double glass doors into the foyer where there are lifts or stairs to the first floor reception.

Further information

Further information about the Mental Health group can be obtained from the Group Secretary, Abby Constantine:

Tel: +44 (0)114 22 20753

Email :