The Mental Health Foundation 2021 - 2022

While through much of 2021 we all had to deal with more pandemic lockdowns, our work and focus on prevention in mental health was needed more than ever.

Despite these restrictions, we continued to commission new research, develop new community programmes and made sure that mental health remained a UK-wide priority through our policy and public awareness work.

Find out more about our key objectives and achievements in 2021-22 and download the full report below.

A man smiling and doing a thumbs up to camera with the dates 2020 and 2021 written over the top

Tell the world

Why prevention is fundamental to effectively dealing with the ongoing mental health crisis

Our UK-wide Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic study made sure that mental health was a key consideration in the public health response to the pandemic.

‘The economic case for investing in the prevention of mental health conditions in the UK’, published in partnership with the London School of Economics, found that mental health problems cost the UK economy £118 billion per year. It has been used to inform public mental health policy across the four nations of the UK.

Spotlight on... Our Personal Experience Network (OPEN)

We launched Our Personal Experience Network (OPEN), a diverse online community of people whose opinions and experiences inform what we do.

OPEN members have been engaged 25 times in the work of five departments and in cross-organisational strategic work. This included hypothesis generation through to project evaluation and media/parliamentary work.

OPEN’s involvement continues to enhance our work by deepening our insights and engaging new audiences.

Our Personal Experience Network (OPEN) logo

Find solutions

Innovate universal and targeted evidence-based community and peer programmes

We continued to successfully deliver our Becoming A Man (BAM) programme in three London Borough of Lambeth schools. Interim evaluation results after the first year showed 75% of young people had an increased empathy score, 59% showed improved relationships with adults, and 55% reported improved academic motivation.

We worked in partnership with Edinburgh City Council, East Lothian CAMHS (Meadows), and Cyrenians to co-produce a training programme on cultural humility and trauma-informed care to support a new programme for unaccompanied young asylum seekers and refugees.

We launched the Living Well: Emotional Support Matters programmes with eight delivery partner organisations to provide mental health support to people living with long-term health conditions across Scotland.

Other highlights from this year included:

  • A new partnership with the City of Sanctuary to empower their well-being work with refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Trialling ways of running peer support for people experiencing Long Covid.
  • Working with a police force in South Wales to help it understand the effect it is having on the mental health of the people it serves.
  • Increasing our peer-delivered Further and Higher Education transition programme, U OK?, into seven universities and twelve further education colleges across England.

Spotlight on... Blue Prescribing

Working with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, we secured funding of £109,000 from Simplyhealth to support lone parents and people with long-term health conditions from diverse backgrounds, through a wetland health programme.

‘Blue Prescribing’ promotes a range of mental and physical health benefits through facilitated wetland nature engagement at the London Wetland Centre. A co-designed self-management course is then delivered by the Mental Health Foundation.

The aim of the programme is to improve mental health by providing access to blue and green spaces whilst participating in a six-week course. Working with peer group participants will build on their learning week by week, building knowledge and resources which will help them manage their mental health.

Blue Prescribing Project - photo bird

Inform and empower

Enable mentally healthier lives through public information and engagement

Working with Nottingham University and Oscar-winning Aardman Animations, we co-produced a series of animated shorts to increase students’ mental health literacy.

We contributed content and research to a regular feature in Psychologies magazine aimed at improving the understanding of a range of mental health concerns - including self-help.

We hosted Voices of Experience (VOX), which has been key in influencing change on a number of national developments in Scotland, including the mental health law review, creating national standards within adult secondary mental health services.

Other highlights from this year included:

  • A seminar series in Oxford exploring issues including racism as a public mental health concern and public mental health approaches to psychosis.
  • Co-producing an online mental health training resource with Looseheadz for the sporting world.
  • Launching a digital professional learning resource to provides both knowledge and practical advice for all school staff across Scotland on how to promote a whole school approach to mental health and well-being.

Spotlight on... pandemic resources

We maintained a COVID Resource Hub for over two years that gave advice to the public on how to look after their mental health during the various stages of the pandemic.

Initially available in English and Welsh, we developed key resources in six additional languages - Arabic, French, Farsi, Somali, Tigrinya, and Urdu - as it became clear that refugee and migrant populations were amongst those experiencing disproportionate disadvantage. With a range of approaches taken by each of the four UK nations, we needed to adapt the advice to make sure that it complied with laws and guidance that increasingly varied initially between UK nations, but also sometimes within nations where some areas fell under special measures. 

Over three million visitors visited our pages in the first two years of the pandemic.

Graphic symbolises the COVID-19 virus

Change policy and practice

Build alliances and champion prevention in policies and changes to society that are adopted by the Government and organisations

We worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to advise on the contents of the discussion paper for a new 10-year cross-government Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan.

We worked extensively with parliamentarians and policymakers to bring about changes to the Health and Care Bill that will help to secure good mental health for all. We took a leading role in coordinating the mental health sector and members of the House of Lords to secure a government amendment that puts ‘knowledge and experience’ of mental illness, including its prevention, on Integrated Care Boards.

Our #WellbeingSociety campaign for the Scottish Parliamentary elections successfully influenced the manifestos of all five main Scottish political parties.

Our influencing work led to changes to the way the Welsh mental health strategy, Together for Mental Health, will be evaluated. It will now specifically include a clear assessment of outcomes for those experiencing inequalities.

Other highlights from this year included:

  • Giving evidence to the Senedd’s Health & Social Care Committee’s inquiry into mental health inequalities.
  • As chair of Scotland’s Mental Health Partnership we helped lead the publication of the ‘Promote, Prevent, Provide’ manifesto for the Scottish  Parliamentary elections
  • The UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee published the final report of its inquiry into body image, which drew extensively on our written and oral evidence.

Spotlight on... Mental Health at Work

Our subsidiary Mental Health at Work CIC has experienced an unprecedented demand from clients over the past 12 months. Over this period, we reached 7,677 employees, working with 58 clients.

Our work has increasingly become more globalised as several clients have requested an international rollout of our programmes. In addition to the UK, we delivered workshops in the USA, Australia, Asia and mainland Europe.

Listening to the needs of our clients we developed and delivered an increasingly diverse range of workshops including MHaW Mental Health Allies®,  Psychological Health and Safety, Burnout and Situational Anxiety.

We were also able to offer our clients the choice of virtual or face-to-face delivery of our facilitated workshops. As a result, we are increasing the opportunity for
people to connect at work and have natural conversations about mental health.

Mental Health at Work CIC logo

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

This was the 21st year we have run Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). The week has grown over the last few years and is the event the charity is best known for among the public. In 2021, we focused on the connection between nature and mental health.

The MHAW content on our website received over 1.1 million page views, includes over 80,000 for our nature top tips. Our nature schools pack was downloaded over 6,000 times.

Media coverage of the week reached an estimated 58.2 million people and included a letter to editors from Julie Walters, Gail Porter talking about mental health on C4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch and insights from Dr Radha. 

In politics, Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, recorded a mental health video with our CEO, Mark Rowland. They discussed the scale of the mental health problem and the evidenced-based preventive solutions that could be actioned to tackle this growing concern. Prime Minster Boris Johnson referred to MHAW during his Coronavirus Press Conference to the nation at the very start of the week.

Colourful graphic with the text 'nature'

Spotlight on... our supporters

2021 was a record-breaking year for the London Marathon, with a whopping £215,000 raised from our wonderful 56 runners. We also ran our first Facebook challenge event, ’12,000 Steps a Day in November,’ which was popular with our supporters and proved to be a successful model of fundraising with over £37,000 raised.

One of our supporters, Ben Hayes, raised over £20,000 by walking with friends 120km in under 40 hours

A new face-to-face fundraising model was tested in September 2021, beginning with street fundraising in London. We then tested recruiting supporters in shopping centres and train stations in Northern England. By March 2022, the campaign recruited 1,244 donors.

Our corporate partnerships included employee fundraising and events with Knight Frank as part of its Day of Giving; direct project support from Simplyhealth and Lloyd’s; cause-related promotions with Neom Organics and Floward; and customer and brand-based fundraising with Zizzi. We were pleased to be involved in the world’s biggest charity gaming event, Jingle Jam. This year the event raised almost £300,000 for the Foundation.

Supporters also raised money for us while they shopped, through affiliate fundraising platforms like AmazonSmile and PayPal, which together raised over £150,000 for the Foundation.


Photo of Ben sitting with his friends

Related content

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Mental Health Foundation Impact Report 2020 - 2021
Mental Health Foundation Impact Report 2020 - 2021
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Annual reports
Annual reports
Mental Health Foundation strategy document
Mental Health Foundation Strategy 2020-2025: Making Prevention Happen
Mental Health Foundation Strategy 2020-2025: Making Prevention Happen
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