We've spent over 70 years as a UK charity working at the forefront of mental health.
Our timeline below takes you through our history and the biggest changes we have achieved with your support.
1949: We are founded
After the Second World War and the NHS's foundation, Derek Richter established the Mental Health Research Fund to address the clear imbalance in physical and mental health funding.
A keen scientist, Derek sets up a wartime research laboratory to treat shellshock in soldiers. He is particularly interested in how your experiences (such as serving in a war) and the environment you live in can shape your mental health.
This approach still informs our research to this very day.
I am getting tired of this perpetual fight to get small sums of research, when our colleagues working in cancer and TB are almost embarrassed by the money being thrust at them.’’ - Derek Richter
1952: Tackling stigma
We host our first major conference in Oxford, bringing together various perspectives on mental health. In the 50s, mental health was still extremely stigmatised, and people with mental health problems were thought of as 'defective' and sent off to asylums. We actively tackle the problematic thinking around this.
1960: Influencing government
The Fund starts to use the outcomes of its research to influence government health and social policies.
The measure of the Foundation's achievement is that for millions of ordinary people the fear, stigma and suffering associated with mental illness is now a thing of the past. - Sir David Plaistow
1973: Mental Health Foundation is formed
The Fund merges with the Mental Health Trust to create the Mental Health Foundation and grows to include departments for grant-making, policy influencing and fundraising.
1989: Working with service users
The Foundation puts people with lived experience of mental health problems at the heart of our work. This includes establishing membership organisations and publishing reports working with service users in equal partnership for the first time.
Our aim is not only to add to the total sum of research, but also to serve as an advisory body concerned with developing the field on a much wider scale -
Ian Henderson, Chairman of the Mental Health Research Fund
1994: Pioneering new research methods
The Foundation conducts the first major piece of social research at a time when laboratory-based research still dominates. We use this research to address mental health problems in the community rather than in clinical settings such as hospitals.
1998/99: Focus on young people
The Foundation innovates digital approaches to research young people’s mental health and pioneers evidence reviews for public mental health.
2001: We launch Mental Health Awareness Week
The Foundation launches Mental Health Awareness Week with its first theme ‘Friendship and Mental Health’. It brings awareness and action at scale and has grown to be the world's biggest annual mental health campaign.
2007: Mental health and the arts
The Foundation launched the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival - it is the largest of its kind in the world and is replicated internationally.
2015: Focus on prevention
The Foundation focuses on prevention as the only reasonable answer to the scale of today’s mental health challenges.
18 July 2019: We turn 70!
We're celebrating the past but looking forward to the next 70 years and the change we can achieve together.
As we reflect on our achievements over the past 70 years, one thing is clear - our work is not yet done. We know that 50% of mental health problems are established before age 14 and that suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50 in the UK.
We need your support to continue making a difference.