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Real time monitoring severe mental health issues during emergencies (LAKEI2_U21SCINIHR)

School of Environmental Sciences

Norwich United Kingdom Data Analysis Epidemiology Meteorology Computer Science Statistics

About the Project

This PhD is part of the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a partnership between Public Health England, King’s College London and the University of East Anglia ( 

Scientific Background 

The mental health effects of emergencies and disasters can be considerable (i). Yet our ability to monitor the mental health consequences of such events in real-time (i.e. day-to-day) is limited. Such information could be key to providing timely support to affected populations. In addition our knowledge of how mental health conditions seen by emergency departments vary by socioeconomic group, geography and in response to weather events are also limited (ii). This PhD provides an exciting opportunity to explore the potential of emergency department data reported to Public Health England to provide early warning of mental health impacts, follow these through events (iii) and explore how impacts vary by socioeconomic group and geography. Such information may be used to develop early interventions. This PhD builds on work we have undertaken to explore the impact of COVID-19 on health care usage (iv).   

Research Methodology 

At the outset you will explore how information on population mental health can be extracted from the codes provided by emergency departments to Public Health England. You will then extract mental health indicators for several previous emergency events (e.g. flooding) to explore their impact on mental health. Finally you will explore how contextual factors (e.g. socioeconomic status, geography, weather) affect mental health attendances. 


You will be trained in the analysis and interpretation of large datasets using statistical and machine learning techniques. The PhD will offer opportunities to gain skills in epidemiological methods. Working with PHE provides access to infectious disease experts and public health practitioners. 

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

The start date is 1st October 2021. The mode of study is full time. The studentship length is 3 years.

Entry Requirements

Enthusiastic with a first degree (1st or 2:1) or Masters in a quantitative discipline. Experience of Public Health, Epidemiology and statistics would be advantageous but not essential. You will have an interest and ability to handle large datasets and a keen interest in how primary care and other real-time data can be used to inform public health. 


UEA Campus, Norwich / PHE Birmingham

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Faculty of Science at UEA. Funding is available to UK applicants only and includes home tuition fees, an annual stipend of £15,609 per annum (for a maximum of 36 months).


i) Neria,Y., Nandi, A. Galea, S (2020) Post-traumatic stress disorder following disasters: a systematic review. Psychological Medicine, 38(4): 467–480.
ii) Baracaia,S., McNulty, D., Baldwin, S. Mytton, J., Evison, F., Raine,R., Giacco, D., Hutchings, A., and Barrat, H. (2020). Mental health in hospital emergency departments: cross-sectional analysis of attendances in England 2013/2014. Emergency Medical Journal 37:744–751.
iii) Smith, G.E., Elliot, A.J., Lake, I., et al., (2019) Syndromic surveillance: Two decades experience of sustainable systems – Its people not just data! epidemiology and Infection, 147, art. no. e101.
iv) Mansfield KE, Mathur R, Tazare J, Henderson AD, Mulick AR, Carreira H, et al. Indirect acute effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical and mental health in the UK: a population-based study. Lancet Digit Health 2021.

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