Social, cultural and community engagement and mental health: Cross-disciplinary, co-produced research agenda

Daisy Fancourt*, Kamaldeep Bhui, Helen Chatterjee, Paul Crawford, Geoffrey Crossick, Tia Denora, Jane South

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background There is increasing cross-disciplinary research on the relationship between individuals' social, cultural and community engagement (SCCE) and mental health. SCCE includes engagement in the arts, culture and heritage, libraries and literature, sports and nature activities, volunteering, and community groups. Research has demonstrated the effects of these activities both on the prevention and management of mental illness. However, it remains unclear whether current research is focusing on the research questions that are of most immediate urgency and relevance to policy and practice. Aims The current project was funded as part of the UK Research and Innovation cross-disciplinary mental health network programme to develop and co-produce a new cross-disciplinary research agenda on SCCE and mental health. Method Established processes and principles for developing health research agendas were followed, with a six-phase design including engagement with over 1000 key stakeholders, consultations, integration of findings and collective prioritisation of key questions. Results We identified four core themes: the mode of engagement, process of engagement, impact of engagement and infrastructure required to facilitate engagement. There were many points of agreement across all stakeholder groups on the priority questions within these themes, but also some specific questions of relevance to different sectors. Conclusions This agenda is particularly timely given the extreme pressure on mental health services predicted to follow the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to identify how resources from other sectors can be mobilised, and what research questions are going to be most important to fund to support SCCE for mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was carried out as part of the MARCH Mental Health Network, funded by the Cross-Disciplinary Mental Health Network Plus initiative supported by UK Research and Innovation (grant ES/S002588/1).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.


  • community mental health
  • cultural
  • Psychosocial interventions
  • research agenda
  • social


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