Conor D’Arcy, Head of Research and Policy, Money and Mental Health

Introducing: Conor D’Arcy

24 February 2020

There’s a saying that happiness equals reality minus expectations. I’m happy to report that my first week at Money and Mental Health exceeded my expectations. Looking in from the outside, the research team I’ll be leading appeared to be a well-oiled machine, pumping out insightful and influential work. I was delighted to find that they’re just as impressive up close. I’ve already been struck by their – and the whole organisation’s – knowledge of and passion for the issues we work on.

Those subject areas are a big part of what attracted me to the role. Like most of us, I’ve seen how challenging times financially can take their toll mentally, and how mental health problems can make finding an answer to money troubles more difficult. Much of my time here so far has been spent getting up to speed with the exciting research the team has already started on, including on access to debt advice and how to manage the undesirable side effects of some beneficial medicines. I’m thrilled to be working on projects like these that could lead to better outcomes for those of us with mental health problems.

The link between mental health problems and income

While I’m relatively new to researching those topics, some of our plans for the year ahead are more familiar territory. I spent five years at the Resolution Foundation, leading their work on low pay and insecure employment. In any focus groups or interviews we held with people in those sorts of jobs, the effect it had on their mental health was a recurring theme. That’s why I can’t wait to get started on our project exploring how mental health intersects with income, shining a light on a hugely important but underexplored topic.

These subjects are fascinating from a research perspective but what drives me is the chance to have a positive impact. I’ve joined the team from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Having spent most of my career in the charity sector, getting hands on experience of how policy and decision making happens inside government was invaluable. It hammered home to me the potential for knowledgeable, dedicated organisations like Money and Mental Health to play a major role in getting issues on the agenda and helping with the nitty-gritty of policy design.

Amplifying the voice of lived experience

At Money and Mental Health, we’re particularly well-placed to do both these things thanks to our incredible Research Community – a 5,000-strong group of people (as of April 2021) who have experience of mental health problems and who influence all our work, offering insights into so many areas, both those already on the radar and those less appreciated. As a researcher, it’s an amazing resource to draw upon but, as someone eager to improve outcomes, I’m excited to be able to amplify those voices to develop better policies. If it sounds like something you’d like to be part of, you can sign up here.

Looking ahead, my hopes for the coming months are that they’ll be busy but rewarding. With our packed research plan and excellent team, I’m confident the reality will live up to expectations.