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How much is spent on mental health research in the UK?

  • £124 million is invested in the UK on mental health research on average each year
  • £9is spent on research per person affected by mental illness
  • 25xmore is spent on research into cancer than mental health per person affected

Research suggests the stigma surrounding mental health is finally starting to diminish. Yet, against this backdrop of welcome and long overdue change, mental health research remains chronically underfunded.

Our latest report, UK Mental Health Research Funding 2014-2017shows that the level of mental health research funding in the UK is not meeting the scale or the impact of mental illness.

The report contains the most comprehensive data available on mental health research funding in the UK, covering the years 2014-2017. 

It looks at how much money is invested in research, through lenses including ‘spend by type of research’ and ‘spend by condition’. It also puts mental health research funding into context, comparing the research spend per person affected by mental illness to that spent on physical illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The report follows MQ’s 2015 Funding Landscape report, which covered the years 2008-2013.

Key findings

  • The total expenditure on mental health research from 2014-2017 was £497 million, on average £124 million per year.
  • These figures translate to just over £9 spent on research per year, for each person affected by mental illness. By comparison, £612 million is spent on cancer research each year, which translates to £228 per person affected – or 25 times more per person.
  • Funding for mental health research has remained flat over the 10-year period 2008 – 2017.
  • Public donations account for 2.7% of mental health research funding - which, compared to other conditions, is very low. In terms of cancer research, spending by fundraising charities makes up 68% of funding. In cardiovascular disease it is 41% and in dementia it’s 28% (a 10-fold difference to mental health).
  • Studies into the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health conditions are significantly underfunded.
  • 26% of money spent on mental health research goes towards children and young people, despite 75% of mental illness beginning before the age of 18.

Find out more

The 'UK Mental Health Research Funding 2014-2017' report was developed using resources from the Milto Goulandris Mental Health Intelligence Library.

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