money An alliance of mental health research funding charities has called for the next government to make the UK a ‘global leader in mental health research’.

The Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders has published a manifesto, called ‘Prioritising mental health research’, which sets out 3 priorities for action for all political parties, in order to strengthen the UK’s mental health research infrastructure.

Central to the group’s call is the need for the next government to redress the current imbalance in mental health research funding and prioritise particularly vulnerable populations, such as children and young people. 

Despite mental health problems accounting for a quarter of the disease burden, currently less than 6% of health research funding is dedicated to the area. This, say the Alliance, means breakthrough advances are being held back in areas that could make a real difference to people’s lives, including the development of new treatments and opportunities to prevent mental illness in future generations.

Vanessa Pinfold, chair of the Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders and research director at the McPin Foundation, said: “We need solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of all communities across the UK, and addressing mental health is a key part of this priority. We require better services and supports, underpinned by research evidence that identifies what works, for whom, how and why. People living with mental health problems tell us of their hopes and aspirations, and the barriers and problems they face. With the support of all political parties, the UK can become a global leader in mental health research and development.”                                                                                                                                              

Andy Bell, deputy chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, added: “Mental health research can change people’s lives. Through research we can find ways of offering better support more quickly when people become unwell. We can find ways of helping people to recover, not just through traditional forms of treatment but by enabling people to manage their condition and build a life outside illness. And we can change attitudes to mental illness by showing that recovery is possible and that equality is our expectation.” 

Cynthia Joyce, chief executive of research organisation MQ: Transforming Mental Health, said: “Our current level of investment in mental health research simply does not reflect the scale and impact of mental illness on individuals and families. We have treatments that work, but we need to make them even better and most certainly, more accessible. And we need to invest in finding out what works for our most vulnerable groups - especially children and young people. Focused research will transform our understanding of mental illness and build a more effective evidence-base for care.”

To read Prioritising Mental Health Research in full, click here