Mental Health Leadership

In 2016 Louise Arseneault was appointed to the new national post of ESRC Mental Health Leadership Fellow. The fellowship is to last a duration of three years, and has aims to identify objectives to advance the course of mental health throughout the lifespan, aiming to promote mental health and develop resilience.

Throughout the fellowship, Louise is playing an essential part in championing the role of the social sciences within the mental health research. She is supplementing the joint-up efforts of the 7 UK Research Councils, in encouraging the creation of multi-disciplinary networks that cross the remit boundaries of the Research Councils. Louise is working to promote investment in the mental health field while providing intellectual leadership and strategic guidance on how social science is able to address the challenges that mental health poses for our society.

During the fellowship, Louise is working on her personal ‘beacon’ research project, which will investigate the impact of social relationships on mental health and wellbeing. Louise has actively collaborated with the Government, third sector and academics and a list of her leadership activities can be found below:

Ask the expert talk on: The pervasive and persistent impact of being bullied in childhood, 9 March 2017

Louise delivered a talk for the Social Market Foundation, summarising some of the evidence demonstrating the harmful impact of childhood bullying victimization up to adult years, concluding with a discussion on the possible policy implications and recommendations of this research.

Meeting on Mental Health Measures in UK Cohorts and Longitudinal Studies, 28 June 2017

Meeting with academics and charity representatives to discuss maximising the take up of mental health measures from UK cohorts and longitudinal studies.

Let’s Talk Mental Health: Interviews, 2018

Louise led a project of five interviews to broadcast the expertise of leading figures in the mental health field. The series, entitled Let’s Talk Mental Health, incorporates interviews with representatives from research, government, clinic and charity.

The aim of this project was to disseminate knowledge, skills and expertise to the general public and those interested in pursuing careers in mental health including students, junior academics, clinicians and early career researchers. The project also aimed to portray the skills and experiences of individuals with lived experiences of mental health problems, and utilised the knowledge of service users to conduct the interviews. The McPin Foundation and Autistica recommended individuals to conduct the interviews and provided a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously learn and educate.

Louise has been collaborating with the Cabinet Office for drafting the next Green Paper on mental health, with the Department of Health to set the priorities for the 10-Year Mental Health Strategy.

In 2005, Louise’s research was highlighted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy – Executive Office of the President, USA and presented to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, London, United Kingdom. Although these papers were published a decade ago, they remain influential to current debates publicized by the Wellcome Trust.

Written evidence submitted to the Early Years Intervention Inquiry, 5 December 2017

The Early Years Intervention Inquiry, launched by the Science and Technology Committee at the House of Commons made a call for evidence on the long-term negative outcomes of adverse childhood experiences. Louise Arseneault contributed written evidence to the Committee - and used the ideas, knowledge and information gathered from the Policy Lab on bullying and mental health to form the basis of the evidence.

Mental Health and Bullying Policy Lab workshop, 27 October 2017

Louise set up a policy lab to explore the mental health consequences of bullying, in collaboration with the Policy Institute. The Policy Lab was set up to draw on the expertise of contacts in the third sector, academia and government to address the mental health consequences of bullying. The participants sought to address the question 'is it valuable, feasible and acceptable to develop interventions that focus on reducing and preventing mental health problems among victims and potential victims?’

Mental Health and Bullying policy brief

Following on from the policy lab hosted in October 2017, in collaboration with the Policy Institute at King’s, Louise launched a policy briefing document which sought to explore ways to best address the mental health consequences of bullying. The document was shared widely with policymakers, academics and the charity sector to address how to minimise the harmful consequences associated with being bullied, by increasing the focus of interventions on victims and potential victims.

Animation on mental health consequences of bullying

An animation based on a policy brief by Louise Arseneault and Ali Hussain highlights how mental health problems in children and young people that are at risk can be limited through providing more targeted support. The animation was created in collaboration with the Policy Institute at King’s and Young Research Advisers from the National Children’s Bureau. The animation pairs creative drawing with a young person’s narration on how strengthened interventions can limit the harm associated with bullying at a young age, that can last for a long time. The video draws on research of pairs of identical twins, in which bullied twins experienced higher symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to their co-twins who had not experienced bullying.

Mental Health Research Roundtable, 23 March 2018

Louise Arseneault holds a roundtable to explore ways to facilitate greater collaboration between the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector and academics regarding mental health research. The roundtable brings together prominent leaders of charities (local, regional and national) to promote collaboration across the domains of the VCSE sector and academia. The meeting also seeks to contribute to a wider agenda to provide studentships and better opportunities to students looking to enter the VCSE sector. The meeting will be followed up with a wider event in the summer to bring together policymakers, government representatives, charity representatives and academics.

Louise works extensively with research councils, and has sat on the review panel on a grant panel in Berlin, and has provided support for the UKPRP call and the ESRC/NSPCC call.

Chairing the Cross-disciplinary mental health network plus call, 31 October 2017

Louise chaired the cross-council mental health network plus call at the Imperial War Museum, raising awareness of the call to individuals and institutions either applying for the funding or wishing to apply for the funding in the future.

CLOSER Innovation Fund

Award holder of CLOSER Innovation Fund for Mental Health Measures in UK Cohorts and Longitudinal Studies. Helping in promoting and maximising the use of mental health measures from various UK cohorts and longitudinal studies. UK cohorts and longitudinal studies invited to take part include all CLOSER studies as well as a number of other key cohorts/studies (e.g. Twin Early Development Study (TEDS), English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), Born in Bradford (BiB), Whitehall II Study, UK Biobank, and Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study).

Louise sat on the selection and interview panels of eight new Mental Health Networks, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), that received a combined funding of £8 million. Louise supported the launches of the eight Mental Health Networks through intellectual leadership and strategic advice. Throughout her fellowship Louise will provide support in the dissemination and activities of the Networks, and will play an important role in the collective launch of all of the Networks.

To access information on the aims and objectives of the eight Mental Health Networks, and to find out how to get in touch via social media and sign up, click here.

In October 2019, The Centre for Society and Mental Health has launched as the first centre of its kind to tackle modern society’s impact on mental health.

The Centre for Society and Mental Health received £6.4 million by the Economic and Social Research Council, which is a part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The ESRC Mental Health Leadership Fellow is a Member and will be working closely with the Centre and the Mental Health Networks to investigate the social factors that shape and promote mental ill health.  

The Centre for Society and Mental Health will focus on the onset and persistence of mental health problems and how they are influenced by social conditions, relationships, and experience. To understand the impact of society on mental health, the centre will be working closely with those who have experienced mental ill health, as well as with government, non-governmental organisations, policy members, planners, architects and local mental health and community groups to translate research into practices; that will improve the lives of all who are affected.

The centre seeks to address questions in three key areas where there is the greatest need:

  • Young people - what impact have recent social and economic changes, from the rise of social media to the growth of precarious employment, had on the mental health of young people?
  • Marginalised communities - what impact have recent social and economic changes, such as prolonged austerity, had on the mental health of disadvantaged communities, including black and minority ethnic?
  • Work and welfare - what impact have widespread welfare reforms had on mental health, and what welfare policies might better promote mental health?

Co-directed by Professor Craig Morgan and Professor Nikolas Rose, the Centre will be based at King’s College London and will work collaboratively with 8 UKRI-funded Mental Health Networks. The Centre will also collaborate with partners from the University of Manchester, McGill University, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Heidelberg University and Indiana University of Bloomington.

To find out more information about the centre you can visit here: