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  What is the economic impact of mental health policies and services that are intended to reduce suicide rates?

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Prof R Elliott, Prof N Kapur, Prof R Webb  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Suicide is a major cause of death worldwide and its prevention is an international priority. Previous ground-breaking work by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness, University of Manchester, has identified that mental health policies and services can reduce suicide rates. Whilst these services reduce suicide rates, they incur costs, so health care providers may be reluctant to pay for them. In the past, mental health services have not been well-funded and many commentators have highlighted the disparity in approach between people with physical and mental health problems as inequitable and unfair. NHS England has proposed that mental health should be put on a par with physical health, referred to as “parity of esteem”.

There is little evidence around the economic impact of mental health service and policy provision and this evidence is needed to direct resources efficiently to those services that may provide best “value for money”. It is likely that once a societal perspective is taken on the economic burden of suicide, these policies would be seen to be even more cost-effective.

This PhD will be based in the Manchester Centre for Health Economics (MCHE), School of Health Sciences (50% funded by MCHE, 50% funded by the NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centre- Greater Manchester), supervised by Professor Rachel Elliott, Dr Thomas Allen (MCHE) and Professor Nav Kapur, Dr Roger Webb (NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centre- Greater Manchester).

The PhD student will be expected to:
• Carry out reviews of published evidence around the economic impact of: a) mental health conditions and suicide; b) mental health policies and service provision
• Calculate robust effect size estimates for key mental health policies and services on suicide rates
• Develop models to estimate the economic impact of key mental health policies and services
• Generate recommendations for which mental health policies may be the most cost-effective

Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in economics, or a primarily quantitative or health-related discipline. A Masters degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in health economics or health services research is desirable.

Applications are welcome from UK and EU nationals only. For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (

Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

This 3-year PhD is fully funded, and will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate and an annual stipend.


1. Kapur N, Ibrahim S, While D, Baird A, Rodway C, Hunt IM, et al. Mental health service changes, organisational factors, and patient suicide in England in 1997-2012: a before-and-after study. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2016;3(6):526-34.
2. While D, Bickley H, Roscoe A, Windfuhr K, Rahman S, Shaw J, et al. Implementation of mental health service recommendations in England and Wales and suicide rates, 1997-2006: a cross-sectional and before-and-after observational study. The Lancet. 2012;379(9820):1005-1
3. van Spijker BA, Majo MC, Smit F, van Straten A, Kerkhof AJ. Reducing suicidal ideation: cost-effectiveness analysis of a randomized controlled trial of unguided web-based self-help. J Med Internet Res. 2012;14(5):e14
4. Ising HK, Lokkerbol J, Rietdijk J, Dragt S, Klaassen RM, Kraan T, et al. Four-Year Cost-effectiveness of Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Preventing First-episode Psychosis: The Dutch Early Detection Intervention Evaluation (EDIE-NL) Trial. Schizophr Bull. 2017;43(2):365-374.