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Mental Health Specialty Research Lead appointed: meet Tobit Emmens, Associate Director of Research & Development at Devon Partnership NHS Trust

Tobit Emmens, CRN SWP Specialty Research Lead for Mental Health

Why did you apply for the position of Mental Health Specialty Research Lead?

I've been involved in mental health research for over 20 years and this has included being a co-applicant on several NIHR grants, supporting many research projects in an advisory capacity, and leading the research team at Devon Partnership NHS Trust. The opportunity to use this experience at a regional level is exciting.

I want to make sure that people living in the South West Peninsula have the same access to research as those living anywhere else in the country, and this role is an exciting opportunity that will help us achieve this. I really want to make sure our connections to big academic institutions in London, Manchester, Oxford, and so on are really strong, and that these typically urban focused research teams think of the patient recruitment opportunities we have in the peninsula when it comes to doing their research.  


Why is mental health research so important?

We all know someone with a mental health problem and can see how lives would be improved with better treatments and understanding. Mental health research saves lives, and I have seen this happen first hand. It also relieves significant distress, improves quality of life, and gives hope. Despite this, mental health research is still under funded and under prioritised. This means we really are missing the opportunities for the kind of breakthroughs we see in other clinical areas.


What are your hopes for research within this specialty?

I want to see mental health research opportunities available for all patients across the peninsula, I hope that over the coming years we will see new treatments that really do make a difference to the lives of people living with mental illness. COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have an impact on the mental health of so many people, and I’m particularly keen to see more research taking place in our children and young people's mental health services. When we add to this the impact of the climate crisis, there is still so much we need to understand about the long term mental health impact of these events, and I hope to see more research in these areas.


Anything else you would like to add?

I look forward to working with those interested and involved in mental health research across the South West Peninsula, so please do get in touch if you have any questions or ideas.