How DATAMIND workshops are developing researchers’ competencies and confidence to work and use the UK's rich data and health records for mental health


Data science has the potential to transform mental health research by using big data from different sources to better understand mental health problems and drive innovative and more effective therapeutic strategies and interventions.

One crucial element towards fulfilling this potential, is having a mental health research workforce that understands data science concepts and tools and has the skill to effectively and secularly use data science approaches to generate new knowledge and discoveries that would not be attainable using traditional methods.

DATAMIND’s workforce capacity building, training, and development workstream aims to build specific skill sets for early career researchers (ECRs) in the field of mental health, particularly increasing capacity on:

  • Research practices
  • Programming
  • Data discovery, requisition and linkage
  • Machine learning
  • Patient and Public Involvement

Impact and outcomes

  • Through engaging researchers in the survey and in workshop sessions, we have established a cohort of over 100 early career researchers who were interested in the field of mental health data science and who wanted to network and participate in upcoming trainings and meetings. This cohort is expanding with every event we host.
  • Both workshops were well received. Feedback was only collected for the ‘Programming in Mental Health Research’ workshop. The large majority (90%) of the post-workshop survey respondents rated the workshop as excellent/very good, found the workshop useful for their role and were keen to attend future events.
  • Researchers gained a better understanding of programming concepts and their practical application, as well as the confidence to apply these concepts to their work.
  • Participants reported that they plan to or have already started applying and integrating learnings acquired from the workshop in their work.
    “I have planned to dedicate half a day every 2 weeks to apply the skills again and continue on my learning R journey”
    “Overall, it was a fantastic workshop and conference that far exceeded my expectations and one that I would highly recommend to fellow ECRs. On a personal note, I have now received a large data that I will work on as part of my first project. I will take up a course on Mendelian Randomisation, which will rely a lot on my rudimentary programming skills. I am scoping out national and local opportunities for data that might be helpful for my future projects. I hope to have something to share at the next MQ DATAMIND event!”
  • The workshop also facilitated networking for researchers who share an interest in mental health data science, whereby, 80% of attendees found that the workshop offered opportunities to make valuable new connections with others in the field.
  • “Great event, inspiring speakers, interesting attendees from a range of backgrounds” I hope to have something to share at the next MQ DATAMIND event!”

What’s next?

We will continue to roll out a designed series of workshops focusing on various innovative data science approaches in mental health research between 2023- 2024, while also integrating feedback from our cohort and workshop participants to ensure the content is relevant, useful, and delivered effectively.

In collaboration with the DATAMIND Super Research Advisory Group, we also plan to provide a workshop on patient and public involvement in Mental Health Data science.

We are also launching our DATAMIND website that will offer more information on the DATAMIND team, activities, planned workshops. The website will be a gateway to publishing and sharing DATAMIND training content and signposting researchers to training resources.

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