Project MH40

Using Understanding Society to examine Mental Health Inequalities in the East of England

The project aims to examine mental health and care inequalities affecting residents in the East of England using secondary datasets, primarily the Understanding Society dataset. Guided by a stakeholder group consisting of local organisational and public patient involvement representatives, key mental health and care inequalities will be identified for examination. 


The project aims to find out if there are people living in the East of England who are more likely to experience mental health or care inequalities. For this research, the inequalities we are looking at include i) being in need of mental health support, but not receiving it, and ii) not having a mental health need, but being diagnosed as having mental health need. We are working with local organisations and people with lived experience of accessing or using mental health services to guide the research we are doing to make sure that it is relevant to the people of the East of England.

To address our aim, we will be using national data collected by the Understanding Society Study. To find out if mental health and care inequalities effect specific groups of people in the East of England, we will characterise people by protected characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010. We will also consider how other wider factors known to effect mental health, such as income, might influence mental health and care inequalities.

Our research question are:

  1. Are protected characteristics associated with risk of experiencing mental health and care inequalities?
  2. Do the impacts of wider determinants of health vary between populations with protected characteristics?

Project Aims

  • To explore whether mental health inequalities effect East of England populations with protected characteristics and the impact of wider determinants of health.
  • Identifying different trends between local and national data.
  • To promote collaboration between local community representatives and University of Essex researchers.

Project Activity

Project activity to date:

  • Established a stakeholder group for mental health inequalities comprising local organisations and patient public involvement representatives.
  • Dissemination of relevant research via a bi-annual stakeholder newsletter
  • Publication of blogs
  • Data analysis of secondary data.
  • Training provided for postdoctoral researcher in advanced data analysis techniques, familiarisation with a large national dataset and analysis.

Anticipated outputs

For this project, we are currently working on a journal publications, blog posts and stakeholder newsletters. We will also facilitate a dissemination event.

Who is involved?


Papers/resources associated with this project

Understanding Society The UK Household Longitudinal Study