A major national public consultation on depression research has been launched this week. Researchers are asking people directly affected by depression their questions about the condition. This gives patients, their families and clinicians the opportunity to help inform future depression research.

The project was initiated by MQ: Transforming mental health and includes partners the Welsh Government, the Mental Health Foundation and the James Lind Alliance (a National Institute of Healthcare Research funded initiative). Together with supporting organisations they have formed the Depression: Asking the Right Questions (Depression: ARQ) partnership.

Traditionally, expert researchers have determined research priorities. Such research is invaluable, but it can be hard for researchers to connect to patients and healthcare professionals.

Patient, carer and clinician involvement in setting research priorities for other conditions is already demonstrating how valuable this perspective can be.

This project aims to bridge the gap and provide a strong connection to the needs of patients; complimenting existing ways research priorities are set.

Cynthia Joyce, CEO of MQ: Transforming mental health, said:“Mental illness affects one in four adults in any year. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the UK, affecting around one in 10 adults in any year and costing the UK economy €19 billion a year. Yet depression is under-researched and current treatments don’t work for everyone.

We believe we can do better.“We aim to ensure future research brings the greatest possible benefit to people affected by mental health problems, including depression. The priorities identified by the partnership will be shared with the public, researchers and research funders. We hope they will be used to help inform studies into depression.”

Keith Lloyd, Professor of Psychiatry and Dean and Head here of the College, said: “Depression: ARQ is a landmark opportunity to bring about an historic shift in the way we prioritise research for depression. This offers us the chance to catalyse research that can make a real difference to people’s lives.

“As a specialist who has been looking after people with depression for many years, I have questions about the condition, and so do my patients. We need this input – without it we have to ask how medical research can be ethical and effective.”

The Survey

The Depression: ARQ partnership is now asking for people affected by depression to take a short survey and let us know their questions about the condition. Questions will be ranked to form ‘top 10’ lists of research priorities. The priorities will be shared with researchers and research funders. Visit www.depressionarq.org to take part.

About the Depression: ARQ Partnership

The partnership includes funding partners MQ, JLA, the Welsh Government and the Mental Health Foundation.

It is supported by British Neuroscience Association, Centre for Mental Health, Epilepsy UK, Marie Curie, The McPin Foundation, The Mental Elf, Mind, MND Association, Nottingham Healthcare NHS Trust, Place2Be, Research Autism, Rethink, Sane, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and SURE.

Organisations interested in joining should contact acranage@joinmq.org.