Tackling the social costs of mental ill health

Gordon HaroldProfessor Gordon Harold is the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex.

Today the government launches its Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families policy paper, which aims to improve outcomes for children who grow up in workless families. A core emphasis of the report is on ESRC-funded research showing that children who experience acrimonious conflict between parents are at risk for multiple poor outcomes, including reduced mental health.

Here, Gordon highlights the role of social science in improving mental health research and the outcomes this can have on society.

Mental health is fundamentally the bedrock of a successful and productive society. Recent estimates (PDF) suggest that by the year 2020, depression will represent the second leading cause of time lost to illness. In 2015, mental health-related issues were found to lead to approximately 17.6 million days sick leave, or 12.7 per cent of the total sick days taken in the UK. Continue reading

Mental health: is it associated with our genes or our early years surroundings – or both?

In the second in a series of blogs about biosocial research Professor Gordon Harold, University of Sussex, writes about the new research on parenting.

A member of the ESRC Capability Committee, Professor Harold has specific expertise in the area of child and adolescent mental health.

Gordon Harold

On the sleeve of an album by the band Snow Patrol, the following words appear “mums and dads of the world, be patient with your children”.

As an early career researcher at the time (2004 – a long time ago now!), studying the role of the inter-parental relationship on children’s mental health and development, I thought “that’s it, that’s the bottom line message from millions of pounds worth of international research aimed at promoting positive links between family relationship experiences and children’s mental health – ‘parents, be patient with your children’”.

So, why do we continue with research on this topic? Continue reading

Nature vs nurture: how the ‘social’ in biosocial studies has shifted the debate

Rebecca Fairbairn is ESRC’s new Head of Longitudinal Studies. She was Head of Knowledge Exchange until summer 2015 when she took up a short-term role to look strategically across ESRC’s biosocial activity.

Rebecca Fairbairn

“Biosocial? Is that even a thing?” was what ran through my mind when I was approached to undertake a piece of work looking across ESRC’s biosocial engagement. The more I learned, however, the more interested I became in this exciting area – and I’m now completely hooked!

Continue reading