Prevention of poor mental health is not only possible, but urgently needed. Our strategy affirms our commitment to making prevention happen, so that people across the UK can live mentally healthier lives.
We are focusing on three key areas
We will systematically consider how to scale ideas informed by evidence. We will build partnerships and alliances that increase the impact and reach of our work.
We will harness evidence and the voice of lived experience to advocate for preventive approaches and create campaigns which tackle the root causes of poor mental health.
We will continue to build a strong organisation that lives its values - that is open, kind, outward-looking and sustainable.
Why does the Foundation exist?
The unacceptably high level of mental ill-health is the public health challenge of our time.
We know the scale of the problem. In the UK, one in six adults and one in eight 5-19 year-olds meet the criteria for a common mental health problem every week. Suicide is the leading killer of men and women between the ages of 15-35. Fewer than one in eight adults say they are thriving. Mental health problems are the biggest contributor to ill-health.
Seventy years ago, our founder Derek Richter talked about the impact of issues like trauma, neglect and poverty on our mental health. Evidence over the last 30 years has shed more light on the causes of mental ill-health, illuminating how genetic, social, economic, family and emotional factors make us more or less likely to develop a mental health problem. Together, these factors interact and influence each other.
As we have understood how many of us experience mental health problems, the focus has been on finding and developing effective treatments. This is vitally important.
However, we can’t treat our way out of the mental health crisis. Prevention in all its forms must become a national priority.
Whilst our genes play a role, we need to turn the lens around to examine and address the societal causes that are leading to poor mental health.
Prevention is absolutely worth working for. It will mean parents enabled to nurture their babies’ emotional health, children protected from trauma, adolescents growing up better able to understand and manage their emotions, fewer adults exposed to toxic workplaces, fewer suicides, less loneliness, and more people feeling supported in recovery.
The choice is ours. Mental health problems of all kinds can be prevented. We must take the necessary action.
If we tackle the risk factors that damage our mental health, and promote the protective factors that enhance it, we can achieve this critical mission of reducing the level and severity of mental health problems. We can also improve resilience to difficult life events that aren’t readily preventable.
Our role is to advocate for the societal changes needed as well as to co-produce, test and apply new solutions for our mental health beyond the health sector: in our workplaces, schools, homes, and in our communities and neighbourhoods that experience the greatest disadvantage.
This strategy is our next step in making prevention happen. We want to be a sustainable and potent force for change, positioning us as the mental health charity focused on prevention and good mental health.