Pandemic driving huge demand for mental health research, says professor

Pandemic driving huge demand for mental health research, says professor

Olivia Kelleher

Ireland's first professor of Public Mental Health has stated that demand for public mental health and suicide prevention has been greater than ever due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Ella Arensman has made the comment upon her appointment to the position of professor of Public Mental Health within University College Cork's School of Public Health.

Professor Arensman said demand for research-based public mental health policy has been unprecedented in light of the challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since the start of the pandemic last year, the attention for public mental health and suicide prevention has been greater than ever.

“My colleagues and I in the National Suicide Research Foundation and School of Public Health have seen a significant increase in requests for policy briefings and research collaborations over the past year.

“For example, the requests for real-time suicide and self-harm data to inform mental health promotion and suicide prevention programmes during Covid-19 have increased over the past year."

Requests for mental health expertise in interdisciplinary research consortia focusing on intervention and prevention measures for infectious diseases and other public health emergencies have also increased.

Suicide prevention

Therefore, this position is timely and will contribute to strengthen suicide prevention research and public mental health in the NSRF, School of Public Health, UCC, and at national and international level,” she said.

Professor Arensman will continue in her current role as Chief Scientist at the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF), while leading important and groundbreaking research on suicide and self-harm within UCC’s School of Public Health.

Professor Ivan Perry, Dean of the School of Public Health, welcomed the appointment of the “global leader in public mental health.”

“Professor Ella Arensman has made an enormous contribution to work on the causes and prevention of self-harm and suicide in Ireland and internationally.

“She has an exciting vision for capacity development and research in Public Mental Health and my colleagues and I at the School of Public Health look forward to working with her to realise this vision," he said.

Prof Arensman has worked for over thirty years in suicide prevention research and public mental health.

In her position as research professor with the School of Public Health and Chief Scientist with the NSRF at UCC, she has established an extensive multidisciplinary research programme in suicide prevention and mental health research.

Prof Arensman is an expert advisor for the World Health Organization and was involved in establishing the NSRF’s WHO Collaborating Centre for Surveillance and Research in Suicide Prevention.

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