Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved Research

The Relationship between Identifiable Health Risk Behaviours and the Development of Severe Mental Illness: A Model of Syndemic Contributors to Severe Mental Illness

Principal Investigator: Professor Simon Gilbody
Approved Research ID: 91042
Approval date: August 10th 2022

Lay summary

We want to find out in what way everyday habits and behaviours actually can change how people with a severe mental illness experience this illness, and, by finding that out, how we can possibly advise people, GPs, and the government in helping people feel better and live a better life they enjoy more in the long term. To do that, we are collecting information on how active a person with one of three specific mental illnesses keeps; how often they spend time outside, like in a garden, park or forest; how well and how much they sleep; whether they smoke or drink alcohol, and if so how much and when or when not; and how resilient they are personally to the bad or sad things that can happen in life, like having to move or losing their job or a loved one dying. We then try to find out how likely for example a highly active person with for example bipolar disorder is to also spend a lot of time outside in a park or garden, and how likely they are to sleep better and more hours during the night, and whether they smoke or drink alcohol (a lot) or not. And then we check whether them being so active changes how bad they feel with regards to their mental illness, and how their mental illness affects them. And we do the same thing for people with schizophrenia and severe depression. The idea behind it is that all these habits and behaviours make another habit or behaviour more or less likely to happen, so a person who is highly active would technically also be less likely to smoke a lot. And smoking a lot makes it very likely that if you have depression, you don't feel very good and experience a lot of negative feelings, more so than a person with depression who doesn't smoke. We'll be working on this for three years, building a blueprint-model on this collection of information, and then test how strong this model is on other datasets. And if we're right and we can find a strong model of influencing behaviours and habits, then we can use this model to help councils and the government give out better information on how to help make people live a healthier and better life for themselves.