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The Global Alliance for Living Evidence on aNxiety, depressiOn and pSychosis, or GALENOS project, has launched in central London.

The meeting, which was attended by 35 people from around the world, was the first of this three-year project that is aiming to transform future mental health research.

GALENOS, supported by Wellcome, is an international collaboration led by Professor Andrea Cipriani from the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, and will make it easier for everyone, including patients, funders and researchers to access and review all the scientific literature that is published every day about three different mental illnesses.

Professor Cipriani said:

“This is a unique opportunity for evidence synthesis in mental health to not only foster research but also to produce better outcomes for all patients. We are starting an exciting journey to understand the mechanisms behind what works and what doesn’t work about pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, diagnosis and prognostic tools in depression, anxiety and psychosis.”

The GALENOS project will create a continuously updated and comprehensive online catalogue of the best scientific literature, meaning the mental health science community can better identify the research questions that most urgently need to be answered and set these as priorities for research.

The online catalogue will be accessible by anyone and will collect data from different types of studies from all around the world. This innovative resource will help the mental health science community to move away from the usual trial and error approach to mental health research towards a more targeted approach.

The GALENOS project is a collaboration between experts and organisations from around the world. But perhaps most importantly, it includes experts by experience, so that the people most impacted by mental illnesses can have a voice in steering the project.

Lived experience

“If you make decisions together you will make better decisions,” says Karla Soares-Weiser, Editor-in-Chief of the Cochrane Library. “One of the things that excites me about this project is how collaborative it is. The decision was made to involve lived experience from the beginning, meaning that we are going to be doing things that will be most helpful for the people who will be most affected. There are many challenges, but by sitting and working together, and because we are allowed to be innovative and take risks, will help us provide better support.”

“I’m blown away by the potential of GALENOS,” says David Gilbert, Founder and Director of InHealth Associates. “The fact that such an important project is co-produced with patient leaders shows just how far we have come within the field of mental health science. The combined expertise of the researchers, funders and people with lived and living experience of mental illness who make up the leadership team for this project will ensure this leads to meaningful progress, much needed by people who live with depression, anxiety or psychosis.”

The need for more prioritised mental health research is clear. One in four people are impacted by mental illnesses. It is estimated that around five per cent of adults are living with depression, over 280 million people worldwide. Despite this, there have been no new treatments for depression in over 30 years.

Niall Boyce, Head of Field Building at the Wellcome Trust, said:

“This project will move the field of mental health forward, giving us the information we need to make rapid and substantial progress in an area where it is so badly needed."

While the amount we understand about the causes and potential interventions in mental health has increased over the last decade, this understanding often goes unutilised for a range of reasons,” says Lea Milligan, CEO of MQ Mental Health Research. “Wellcome’s investment into GALENOS gives us the opportunity to set a new unified, global understanding of where the greatest opportunities for the field are and how research can develop early interventions into anxiety, depression and psychosis.”

As well as making the latest scientific literature more easily accessible, and helping to set priorities for research, it is hoped that GALENOS will help to grow the capacity for global research.

The meeting last week (March 8) covered co-production, research priority setting, ontology, outcomes, evidence synthesis and triangulation over two days. During which time the multi-disciplinary group had the opportunity to network and collaborate.

“We are not only collaborating, but we also share the same vision and the same hope."

“I have been so impressed over the last two days,” says Cipriani. “We have brought together some of the best experts in the world and put them all into one room. Many of us didn’t know each other, we had never collaborated before, but coming here in London it’s like coming to a meeting with old friends. The discussion is very natural, very interactive and everyone is so engaged. We have here experts in mental health, we have psychologists, epidemiologists, patient and public representatives, so different stakeholders. It’s very multidisciplinary.”

“It’s fantastic the atmosphere, so we are not only collaborating, but we also share the same vision and the same hope.”

For more updates follow GALENOS on Twitter.