The International Centre for Mental Health Social Research

The International Centre for Mental Health Social Research (ICMHSR) brings together researchers from around the world to undertake a unique research programme applying social science to mental health practice.  Based in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, the Centre's research focuses on social perspectives in mental health through the life course from childhood to old age.  The collaboration meets a need for research into the social, economic and cultural factors which help to enhance mental well-being and support recovery from mental distress. Research also focuses on the role of social problems in the cause and course of mental health problems and will develop and evaluate innovative ways of tackling them.

Read more information about ICMHSR here. 

Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York


The Department of Social Policy and Social Work (SPSW) at York is one of the leading UK centres for teaching and research in social policy, social work, applied social science and professional development for public management. In the latest national research evaluation exercise (REF 2014) SPSW’s overall research performance was ranked third in the UK, with 54% of research activity rated as world leading. The Department was equal first in the UK for the impact of its research. The majority of SPSW’s academic staff have been assessed as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Read more information about the department here

Research Team

Professor Martin Webber (Principal Investigator)

Martin is a Registered Social Worker and has worked in a community mental health team and with adults with a learning disability in residential care. He worked for ten years at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, where he led an advanced social work Masters programme and developed e-learning courses in research for social workers. He led research projects which developed and piloted an intervention for workers to support isolated people to develop their social networks and led evaluations of mental health reablement and peer support services.

Martin moved to the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York in September 2012. With collaborators in India, Australia, Denmark and the USA he set up the International Centre for Mental Health Social Research which is developing a research programme to inform mental health policy and practice nationally and internationally. Work is on-going in India and Nepal, and a project has been completed in Sierra Leone. The collaboration has also produced a special issue of the British Journal of Social Work. Martin also continues to lead research projects which aim to develop and evaluate social interventions for people with mental health problems.

Martin is also currently the Academic Programme Lead for Think Ahead, an accelerated graduate-entry route into mental health social work; Deputy Head of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York; and academic lead of Making Research Count (York). He is the author and co-author of over fifty peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. He has written three books. The second edition of Evidence-Based Policy and Practice in Mental Health Social Work was published by Learning Matters/SAGE in 2011; and Reflective Practice in Mental Health, edited with Jack Nathan, was published by Jessica Kingsley in 2010. Applying Research Evidence in Social Work Practice was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015.

Read Martin's staff profile


Dr Roz Austin (Research Associate)


I am a Research Associate in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at York University. I recently completed a PhD with Durham University’s ‘Hearing the Voice’ research team, investigating the emotional aspects of adults’ experiences of hearing voices. I conducted qualitative interviews and focus groups with service-users. I am a Collaborator with Durham University’s ‘Hearing the Voice’ research project, as well as an Individual Partner in the Collaborating Centre of Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care, St Catherine’s College, Oxford University, and the Network Lead of the Educational Voice-hearing Network.

Read Roz's staff profile