Researchers at the University are to address sexual health issues in people struggling with mental illnesses.

A growing link between mental health problems and poor sexual health has been revealed by academics who are being funded £600,000 for the research.

Huddersfield’s Applied Mental Health Research professor Elizabeth Hughes has received the huge figure to research more into the issue.

She will be joined by a team of leading academics for the project, which is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment Programme.

Prof Hughes said: “Sexual health in its broadest sense includes not just being free from sexually-transmitted infections, but also includes being able to express sexual identity and orientation, and have intimate relationships free from exploitation and abuse.”

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She added: “We have partners from the fields of mental health and sexual health represented. We needed to bring people from these different disciplines together.

“As part of my day-to-day work, I would ask questions about sexual health and many people were not aware of risks regarding their sexual relationships.

“Sexuality and sexual health are topics often ignored or avoided by mental health staff. This means that needs don’t get identified and addressed.”

Prof Hughes has a long-standing interest in possible links between our mental and sexual health.

She began her career as a mental health nurse working in a drug and drink detox clinic.

The first six months of her project, which begins later this year, will focus on developing a rapport with mental health services and their users, as well as sexual health practioners, for research.