Mental Health in Young People research initiative

‘Mental Health in Young People’ is a research initiative at the University of Bristol, led by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute. The initiative is looking at ways to improve mental health and wellbeing for young people, with a particular focus on University students.

A growing concern

Mental health is one of the most challenging public health issues of our time. Nationally, and indeed globally, there is increasing concern about mental health challenges facing young people as a result of the growing pressures of living, studying and working in today’s world.

Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and around 75% of adults with mental illness first experience symptoms before the age of 25. Students sometimes struggle; a recent analysis by Universities UK (UUK) highlighted a six-fold increase in the number of UK students who disclose a mental health condition to their university since 2007.

Tackling the issue together

As a research-intensive University, Bristol is well placed to develop evidence-based strategies to support student mental health and wellbeing. With a network of academics from different backgrounds, and with strong Students Union representation, the Mental Health in Young People research initiative brings together experts in mental health and wellbeing to deliver high quality research in this area.

Elizabeth Blackwell Institute shares the University-wide commitment to the work, with the initiative reflecting the cross-disciplinary and whole-University nature of the challenges and issues to be addressed. Experts in multi-disciplinary research, Elizabeth Blackwell Institute brings together researchers from different disciplines, facilitating meetings and workshops to tackle this issue head on.

Find out how this research is progressing - read about the latest Mental Health in Young People workshop held in November 2019.

Students at the heart of our research

Once data is analysed to evaluate the impact of our wellbeing initiatives, researchers will take an evidence-based and thoughtful approach to developing and refining future approaches, ensuring that students at the University of Bristol can see the outcomes of the research they contribute to.

Steering the initiative

We have set up a Mental Health in Young People research initiative Steering Group which is chaired by Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience. The Elizabeth Blackwell Institute Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in Young People’s Mental Health is closely aligned with the work of the initiative.

The initiative includes representatives from the Student Union; Student Services; Students Health Service; Development and Alumni Relations Office; Brigstow Institute; Bristol Health Partners; and academics from across the University representing all Faculties.

The work of the Mental Health in Young People research initiative complements the University of Bristol’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Student Strategy.


With support from the Rosetrees Trust and Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute has funding available to support research projects that will address mental health and wellbeing. 

Each successful project could be funded up to £25k for up to 12 months duration. Funding is available to support 4 projects in total. The deadline for applications is 12 midday Wednesday 1 July 2020.

Find out more and apply

A funding scheme for ‘challenge led’ projects was launched in Summer 2019 to support research projects led by University of Bristol staff. Thanks to the EBI Research for Mental Health in Young People Challenge scheme four new research projects are looking at different aspects of young people's mental health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on University students:

  • social media
  • barriers to student support
  • provision of online resources
  • supporting students with autism

Read about the research projects supported as part of this initiative to help improve young people's mental health and wellbeing through research.

Get in touch

If you would like more information, or would like to join the Mental Health in Young People research initiative network, please contact

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